Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

Well, my darlings, I'm off to work in a few, I'm just getting ready for a Christmas busier than* I've ever experienced. They just were never that big a deal in my family and I suspect overall Christmas isn't as big over here as they are in other countries. (Thanks to Calvin.)

After work I'll be going directly to K's in Amsterdam, because tonight we're going to a party at Prik's very own DJ Gina's house, tomorrow we'll be spending with a wonderful couple from down under and on Boxing Day we're set to have drinks with a bunch of UUs at our minister's house.

Gotta go and check I have enough clean underwear.

Merry Christmas!

MJ


* I finally bought Michael Tollive Lives yesterday and in the back are short profiles of the other Tales of the City books. In one of them it says something like "they got more then they expected". (At least it wasn't in the book itself, but still... Ouch!)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

the DARK side

mouse

So yes, I caved in and bought an iPod, okay? It's a classic, 120GB, my Christmas present to myself, his name is mouse and he's black charcoal. Right now he's quietly synchronising in the corner.

But that's not the real story. The real story is that I stood there in one of the major electronics store chains in the country and they wouldn't take my money. I say money, I mean my plastic: the cashier told me she couldn't accept my credit card if it wasn't signed. I had my passport at the ready, which of course does have my signature and is a legal means of identification.

After I told her "Well then I guess that's it then" I left without looking back and found it for the same price at another store.

Monday, 15 December 2008

I will have been drunk this Christmas

The Ghost of Christmas Future Perfect Passive

With thanks to David, who almost made me spit out a drink through my nose by posting this.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

noon

Amsterdam comes alive at noon on Sundays. You can almost set your watch to it.

The sun that shone in my eyes earlier to wake me has disappeared behind a thick layer of grey cloud, but there are boats on the canals, cars on the streets and families with children bundled up all around.

The parking police are also out on the streets. It's a good thing K put Ellen to bed in the underground garage last night.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

hooray for Hollywood

This blog got a visit from Twentieth Century Fox last night. I'm curious who was surfing from work and why, especially because they arrived here from this blog.

Also I'm slightly worried that they did a search that landed them on this post of mine...

Should I be worried?

Friday, 12 December 2008

art appreciation

I'm on the train back from drinks in Amsterdam. I was supposed to meet K but I knew a good friend of his, the artist John O'Carroll, was in town and I was hoping to catch him.

A little while back I did some translation work for him because something had good wrong and the original translator couldn't do it. And now the book with those translations has been published and I got a signed copy from him over caipirinhas at a gay bar called Getto on the Warmoesstraat.

K got his copy - actually the one Johnny had meant to inscribe for the Queen but he messed up the word "magesty" - as did K's ex, R, with the inscription next to the picture of a painting that has been hanging in his living room for some time now. In fact he's got more of Johnny's art in the cellar (I mentioned my, currently, bare walls, I may be in with a shot) that he's storing for him.

Then Johnny discovered something strange about my copy: it repeats itself between pages iv and 4. Unfortunately for him, mine seems to be the only one, so he won't be able to get another run done for free. Fortunately for me, mine seems to be the only one, so maybe it'll be worth something someday.

In the meantime I'm going to have to console myself with being named as a collaborator in a book in the British Library. So they dropped an "r" from my first name, I'm not too proud.

Funny thing about "r"s... the locksmith making nameplates for my doorbell and mailbox changed the one in my last name to an "n".

P.S. I have just discovered that pages 43 till 55 are missing. But I don't care, my book is special.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

straight out of Columbo

An actor narrowly escaped death after slashing his throat on stage with a real knife, instead of a blunt stage-prop blade.

Daniel Hoevels slumped to the floor with blood pouring from his neck during a performance at Vienna's Burgtheater.

He was rushed to hospital with a deep slice to his throat which fortunately missed his main artery.

Austrian police are investigating whether the incident was a mistake or a deliberate attack on the actor.

Source: BBC

Columbo

Diamond bracelets Woolworths doesn’t sell

Nor anything else for that matter - at least that's how it looks for the UK branch. The company has supplied British families with a wide range of goods for 99 years and now the variety seems to be it’s downfall.

Today saw the start of store closure sales in all 815 outlets - good for Christmas shoppers looking for a bargain, but not so good for their 30,000 employees. Administrator Deloitte is trying to save as much as possible of the chain by this sale and trying to : "Christmas is clearly the busiest time of the year for retailers and it is prudent to do all we can to sell existing stock."

Some of the other retailers may be interested in the most profitable parts, but Theo Paphitis from the Dragon's Den has not deemed it worth his while.

I just wanted to use that headline, really.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

apology to cows

Sunday, December 7

On the train to Amsterdam, empty fields have been replaced by forests of office buildings. I forgot my Precious and feel isolated. My ankle hurts less although I aggravated it yesterday by driving (took a long time to get comfortable in bed last night because of the nagging pain) and this morning getting on my bike - must remember not to extend my toes, on purpose or by accident.

Two jackdaws sitting on a railing at a train station, all fluffed up to keep warm. One moves closer to its companion. Could one keep them? I would only do it if I had a large aviary. Space I don't have.

There is also a pretty little church next to the station and next to that, a small patch of green field, cut through by steel spikes of water. Relics of an older age, a way of life that no longer exists in the surrounding neighbourhoods and office parks.

The sun is shining today, like the Roman Pantheon the sky is covered by grey clouds on the horizon but the warm rays shine through the opening at the top of the dome.

City living. I couldn't live in the countryside, I love having shops and restaurants nearby, not to mention doctors, pharmacies, cashpoints, public transport. And people. They don't have to talk to me, but I love watching them.

Maybe I'm doing cows a big disservice now.

my gay CDs

Through Uroskin, I bring you Out Magazine USA's 100 gayest albums of all time. Like him, I have marked the ones I own:

100 The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
99 Joni Mitchell - For The Roses
98 Ferron - Testimony
97 Janis Ian - Between The Lines
96 Nick Drake - Bryter Layter
95 Culture Club - Kissing To Be Clever
94 Hair Original Broadway Cast - Hair
93 Sade - Lovers Rock
92 Morrissey - Viva Hate
91 Grace Jones - Nightclubbing
90 Kate Bush - The Kick Inside
89 Fifth Column - To Sir With Hate
88 Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
87 Madonna - Confessions On A Dance Floor
86 Madonna - Madonna
85 Nina Simone - Anthology
84 Cyndi Lauper - True Colors
83 Bette Midler - The Divine Miss M
82 Cher - Believe
81 Scissor Sisters - Ta-Dah
80 Rufus Wainwright - Want One
79 T. Rex - Electric Warrior
78 Various - The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack
77 New Order - Substance
76 Ani DiFranco - Imperfectly
75 Carole King - Tapestry
74 Michael Jackson - Off the Wall
73 Various - Fame Soundtrack
72 Donna Summer - Once Upon a Time
71 Elton John - Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy
70 Rent Original Broadway Cast - Rent
69 Frances Faye - Caught In The Act
68 Nirvana - Nevermind
67 Hüsker Dü - Candy Apple Grey
66 Soft Cell - Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret
65 Le Tigre - Le Tigre
64 Patti Smith - Easter
63 Björk - Debut
62 Jeff Buckley - Grace
61 Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
60 R.E.M. - Automatic For The People
59 Bronski Beat - The Age of Consent
58 Liz Phair - Exile in Guyville
57 Prince - Dirty Mind
56 Team Dresch - Personal Best
55 David Bowie - Diamond Dogs
54 Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
53 Culture Club - Colour By Numbers
52 Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
51 Frankie Goes To Hollywood - Welcome to the Pleasuredome
50 Rufus Wainwright - Poses
49 Patti Smith - Horses
48 Cris Williamson - The Changer and the Changed
47 The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
46 Madonna - Ray of Light
45 Bikini Kill - Pussy Whipped
44 Pet Shop Boys - Very
43 Prince - Purple Rain
42 ABBA - Gold
41 Melissa Etheridge - Yes I Am
40 Pet Shop Boys - Behavior
39 Laura Nyro And Labelle - Gonna Take A Miracle
38 Dusty Springfield - Dusty In Memphis
37 Blondie - Parallel Lines
36 Madonna - Erotica
35 Yaz - Upstairs At Eric's
34 Donna Summer - Bad Girls
33 The Smiths - Hatful Of Hollow
32 The Smiths - Meat Is Murder
31 Sarah McLachlan - Fumbling Towards Ecstacy
30 Diana Ross - Diana
29 Pet Shop Boys - Actually
28 Queen - The Game
27 Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
26 Scissor Sisters - Scissor Sisters
25 k.d. lang - Ingénue
24 Sylvester - Living Proof
23 Deee-Lite - World Clique
22 The Gossip - Standing In The Way Of Control
21 David Bowie - Hunky Dory
20 Queen - A Day at the Races
19 The B-52s - The B-52's
18 George Michael - Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. I
17 Lou Reed - Transformer
16 Queen - A Night at the Opera
15 George Michael - Faith
14 Erasure - The Innocents
13 Ani DiFranco - Dilate
12 The Velvet Underground & Nico - The Velvet Underground & Nico
11 Various - Hedwig And The Angry Inch Soundtrack
10 Antony And The Johnsons - I Am A Bird Now
9 Cyndi Lauper - She's So Unusual
8 Madonna - The Immaculate Collection
7 Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
6 The Smiths - The Queen is Dead
5 Judy Garland - Judy at Carnegie Hall
4 Indigo Girls - Indigo Girls
3 Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman
2 The Smiths - The Smiths
1 David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars

I didn't mark any David Bowie or Queen albums, as I seem to have only compilations of them. I believe I have the Hedwig soundtrack, but I would have to check. The Pet Shop Boys albums are all the result of a recent eBay shopping spree.

Isn't it great that Rufus Wainwright and Scissor Sisters are both on there twice? (HINT: there is only one correct answer to that, if you are unable to give it, do not answer at all...)

i *heart* coffee

a TALL one

This is a sweet little story about coffee Christoph Niemann with very clever and funny drawings to boot. I love sweet little stories about coffee. I adore clever and funny drawings.

But I *heart* my french press.

rice

In the category bad jokes, here's one I just thought of as I was boiling my rice:

Q: What do you call a colander from Bruges?

A: Het vergiet van België

(Only for those who speak Dutch, unfortunately.)

undo

I was removing paperclips from a stack of papers that had been sorted into smaller stacks and suddenly realised that I couldn't undo and put them back together again.

In real life you can’t simply hit [CONTROL] and [Z] to undo your last mistake...

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

by appointment to her Majesty's commission

If I didn't realise he has other things on his mind right now (much love and virtual good vibrations to you, dear) I would be quite surprised that Pogonophile hadn't jumped on this post by Joe.My.God. I hope he finds it and gets a smile from it.

find your affliction

A ass

Reading up on the expression "the law is an ass", I found that Dickens actually wrote:
The phrase "The law is an ass" originates in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, when the character Mr. Bumble is informed that "the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction". Mr. Bumble replies "If the law supposes that… the law is a ass —- a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is that his eye may be opened by experience —- by experience."

Notice how he says a ass and a idiot; it may have been acceptable in his time - or it may have been a way for him to contrast the character's speech. Either way it reminds me of an early-morning walk to the railway station last week, when for a few seconds I believed I must still be dreaming as a sign on the side of the busses there read "Take a ING mortgage."

Perhaps they meant *@#!ING...?

Sunday, 7 December 2008

witch hunt

I just discovered the special recommendations page on bol.com, a Dutch book, DVD, CD etc. online store. Here's what it thinks which books I would like to buy:

Thomas Hardy, Selected Poems - Thomas Hardy
The Pardoner'S Tale - Geoffrey Chaucer
Blood and gold - Anne Rice
The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain - Mark Twain
The Age Of Alexander - Plutarch
The Line Between - Peter S. Beagle
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
Tamsin
Franny and Zooey - J.D. Salinger
The History Of Sexuality - Michel Foucault
Memnoch the Devil - Anne Rice
Macedonian Warrior - Waldemar Heckel
The Book Of The New Sun - Gene Wolfe
The Story Of Modern Art - Norbert Lynton
The Dirk Gently Omnibus - Douglas Adams
Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star - Rich Merritt
Who's Who in Age of Alexander the Great - Waldemar Heckel
The Deeper Meaning Of Liff - Douglas Adams
The Mosquito Coast - Paul Theroux
Oscar Wilde's Wit And Wisdom - Oscar Wilde
The Divine Comedies - Tom Holt
Drawing Blood - Poppy Z. Brite
North And South - Elizabeth Gaskell
The Vampire Armand - Anne Rice
Slaughterhouse 5 - Kurt Vonnegut
The Mask of Apollo - Mary Renault
Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour - J. D. Salinger

It doesn't touch the complete spectrum of my reading and there are a couple of tragic missers, but it's not too bad. In fact it's a bit scary.

I have just finished David Leavitt's While England Sleeps (I think I mentioned it before). Although it was tempting, I didn't find out who had sued him for plagiarising parts of his autobiography until after I had finished the book. Of course now I'm very curious exactly which parts Leavitt removed for the re-published version I read. (He did say not a word of the sex scenes was changed.) I shall have to sneak a few moments at work tomorrow searching the online newspaper archives for the details of the court case...

Saturday, 6 December 2008

no matter what

I'm not telling you which reindeer I am...

Friday, 5 December 2008

paint job

I don't know where this joke came from, all I know is K told it to me last week:

Q: How can you tell the diversity of a Unitarian Universalist congregation?

A: You go to the parking lot during a service and look at all the different colours on their Priuses.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Luke, I am your mother!

Mrs. WormwoodI love how sometimes kids' TV writers add these little jokes for the - in my case hardly - more mature viewers.

You're not going to get the background to this if you don't know the Sarah Jane Adventures, but in tonight's episode Enemy of the Bane Mrs. Wormwood tells Sarah Jane's adopted son: "Luke, I am your mother!"

Saturday, 29 November 2008

strange bedfellows

Walking home to K's tonight I saw Sinterklaas, or St. Nicholas, the gift-bearing children's friend Santa Claus was based on, at the local Scientology chapel.

What in Xenu's name..?

balance

Isn't it strange that after buying an apartment and having the first mortgage payment taken from my account my bank balance seems to be in better shape than it has been for years? Of course I still need to buy stuff for the house, but I'm planning on doing that gradually.

From taking money out of my - originally very healthy - savings account bit by bit until there was nothing left, I've gone to finding myself thinking this morning "I really need to move some of this to a proper savings account" (I do have an account next to my checking account that yields some interest.)

There's got to be some big cost that I'm forgetting about.

Friday, 28 November 2008

stacks

Yes, I am still around, don't get your hopes up!

Last night my parents visited without, for the first time, any plans for major construction (i.e. no electrical tools were used) so after my father dumped a few things they needed to store somewhere in my downstairs lockup, we just sat down on the sofa, had tea and talked about my TV. Even about some of what was on it, i.e. a five-minute discussion about who was in goal in which my Dad was talking about the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper and Mom about the NEC goalie. To give them credit, they were both right.

So after they left I checked how little storage space I now have left for K's winter tyres (they're still in Sunshine's parents' garage; Sunshine and K broke up, so it wouldn't do to leave them there too long) and noticed the books Dad moved. They were among some of the ones I got from K and (through him) from Bob and Marian. (By the way, less than a year after Marian moved back to the US, the other namegiving partner in her lawfirm has also left, to become Minister for Integration for our Labour party.)

Perusing the stacks I picked out David Leavitt's While England Sleeps and Bob Spitz' Beatles biography. I enjoy discovering new books and with this library I'll never have to turn them back in...

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

tagged!

I've been tagged by Willym to participate in another book meme. Fortunately for him, those are just about the only ones I respond to. These are the rules:

Open the book nearest your computer (and be honest not something artsy-fartsy so you can impress everyone) turn to page 56. Post the 5th sentence in italics plus one or two before and thereafter for context.

So here it goes:

The nearest books are in a pile within an arms' length of the computer, consisting of - from top to bottom - a King James Bible, A Chosen Faith about Unitarian Universalism and a UU songbook, Singing the Living Tradition. I've italicised the fifth sentence of the KJ text, other italics are as published:
EXODUS 21
Laws Regarding Oxen
28 If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his fless shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit.
29 But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.
30 If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give for the ransom of his life whatsoever is laid upon him.
31 Whether he have gored a son, or have gored a daughter, according to this judgment shall it be done unto him.
32 If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty she'-kels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.
33 And if a man shall open a pit, or if a man shall dig a pit, and not cover it, and an ox or an ass fall therein;
34 The owner of the pit shall make it good, and give money unto the owner of them; and the dead beast shall be his.
35 And if one man's ox hurt another's, that he die; then they shall sell the live ox, and divide the money of it, and the dead ox also they shall divide.
36 Or if it be known that the ox hath used to push in time past, and his owner hath notkept him in; he shall surely pay ox for ox; and the dead shall be his own.

I must say using pot as a way to control vicious oxen was new to me, but having thought it over, it just might work... A Chosen Faith starts a new chapter on page 56 and besides the title ("The Known and the Unknown") it only contains the following two quotes. Count carefully and you'll see that there are only four sentences on the entire page:
Who are these Unitarian Universalists, standing around the coffee table on Sunday morning discussing last night's movie and next fall's election; reviewing the morning sermon, designing tomorrow's education, storming over next century's oceans? Joyful celebrants of the gift of life, mixing nonsense with the quest of the ages, turning secular need into concerned action, serving wine on the lawn and petitions in the foyer?
-- Betty Mills, Unitarian Universalist layperson

Keepers of the dream will come again and again, from what humble places we do not know, to struggle against the crushing odds, leaving behind no worldly kingdom, but only a gleam in the dark hills to show how high we may climb. Already there have been many such heroes - women and men whose names we do not know, but whose words and deeds still light the path for us.
-- H.G. Wenzel, Unitarian Universalist layperson

And now for some music! Singing the Living Tradition doesn't have pagenumbers, you tell the pages by the numbers of the hymns. Number 56 is called "Bells in the High Tower". It has four stanzas:
Bells in the high tower,
ringing o'er the white hills,
mocking the winter,
singing like the spring rills;
bells in the high tower,
in the cold foretelling
the spring's upwelling.

Bells in the old tower,
like the summer chatter
from darting bright birds,
as the grapes turn redder;
bells in the old tower,
now the wine is brimming,
new life beginning.

Bells in the stone tower,
echoing the soft sound
of autumn's mill wheel,
as the wheat is spun round;
bells in the stone tower,
see the bread is yeasting
for time of feasting

Bells in the cold tower,
'midst the snow of winter
sound out the spring song
that we may remember;
bells in the cold tower,
after the long snowing
come months of growing.

Again, four sentences. And I'm not artsy-fartsy, I'm obviously a religious nut!

No bitching about the editing, Joe!

gently introduce nose to grindstone for optimum result

Funny how after a week off work I feel like I've been away for months. Best remember to set my alarm again...

packages

Perhaps I can keep on switching cable providers every two weeks...

I don't know about other countries, but over here the cable companies try to sucker you into buying the extended packages by giving them to you for free the first couple of weeks. That is how it came to pass that last night when I was idly paging through the their guide, I came across an 'interesting' movie.

The premiss of The Hole is that there is a video tape out there that will turn men gay seven days after having watched it. Of course they all need to test whether they're really gay - on one occasion a "straight" friend helps one guy out. Then a Swedish reporter from the San Bernadino Examiner tries to get to the bottom of the story...

Apparently over here the mainstream movie channels are not averse to showing gay porn at night. Hence my opening statement. ;-)

EDIT: On a more serious note, this morning I watched Das Leben Der Anderen. Wow! That Oscar was thoroughly deserved.

Monday, 17 November 2008

you people write too much

You go offline for a few days and there are 680 new items on your Google Reader. Sheesh!

Just be good for GOODNESS' sake

goodness

No matter what philosophy, creed or religion you adhere to, please heed the above message. You know it makes sense.

(via Joe and the American Humanist Association)

i CAN has the internetz!

Hi there! I knew I could do the techie part myself! Here I am with my modem installed and connection with a new provider sorted, I'm so proud of myself...

I need to grab an extension cord to hook up the bread maker and the microwave and the washing machine is not working yet (the drain needs to be fixed, but apparently all it needs is a 10" piece of pvc piping) but apart from that, everything is in working order and all I need to do is sort out this mess and add a few details (a toilet brush, for instance, and dishwasher tablets).

I will make time to catch up with all of y'all's blogs later, but for now rest assured I'm back. Just try to get rid of me!

Hugs and kisses. Now I'm off to buy the corniest picture postcards I can find to send out with my new adress.

PS. If you want a card too, you'll have to send me your adress!

Friday, 14 November 2008

moving

I've been a busy bee the last three days, moving box after box after box into my new apartment, even unpacking a few! The kitchen is practically done, but almost everything else is still sitting on the floors, including me.

Actually, right now I'm in my old home, waiting for my father to arrive with the van. Tomorrow morning(and perhaps tonight) we will load all the big furniture into that so that we can take it to my new place. Almost all the books are already in the cellar, waiting for my bookcases to be put up - the horizontal planks are there already, they're only 60 centimeter (2 feet) wide - and for me to sort them all out. It seems daunting...

Today my washing machine and TV were delivered (my parents had said from the start that I would get the former from them, but then a few days ago my Dad said - okay, Mom told me first, but I was sworn to secrecy - that I could have a 32" TV on them too). Unfortunately, they couldn't install the washer and I was just busy installing digital TV on my old set so I told them to put it down for the moment too. But it'll all work out.

I think I may have to get ready for the arrival of père Knife. 'Night all!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

hello, goodbye

Hello pumpkins, this is your Queen speaking!

Actually, all I wanted to say is that tomorrow I get the keys to the apartment and I may not be able to get online for a while. Don't worry, nothing's happened. And I sometimes overreact terribly, so you may not even miss me.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

why I love QI

Dorothy Parker called her parrot Onan because it spilled its seed on the ground.

I found that Quite Interesting, I didn't know it. (At first I thought I must have missed that episode, until I realised I was watching Bonus Bits & Bloopers on YouTube.) Let's take a look at the King James Bible:

And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother's wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also.

Genesis 38:8-10
(This links to a different translation than the one quoted above, try out other versions by using the pull-down menu.)

Which sounds to me that someone was pissed off at Onan for not impregnating his brother's wife, rather than for masturbating...

In fact doesn't it sound as if he pulled out? In Dutch we call that "leaving the church without singing".

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

A Palin aide said: "Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin."

McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.


(From "Hackers and Spending Sprees" on Newsweek). Also interesting from the same article:

Palin launched her attack on Obama's association with William Ayers, the former Weather Underground bomber, before the campaign had finalized a plan to raise the issue. McCain's advisers were working on a strategy that they hoped to unveil the following week, but McCain had not signed off on it, and top adviser Mark Salter was resisting.


I received the results of my latest shopping spree yesterday: two underwire bras (one blue with silver stripes, the other black), six panties (two the same as the marine bra, four black) and some pantyhose...

Good morning America how are you?

Obama

(on the cover of the special late edition of Metro)

Monday, 27 October 2008

I have often walked

On Saturday I had a very strange experience; a sudden bout of nostalgia caught me as I came back from the supermarket for some last-minute supplies (most supermarkets over here are closed on Sundays, it wasn't too long ago they weren't allowed to be open on that day, or after six PM on weekdays).

I didn't think I was emotionally attached to this neighbourhood, I still don't, it must have been the result of an innate fear for the unknown rather than affection for this place. The neighbourhood was just somewhere for the house, my home, to stand. I smiled at familiar faces, even made small-talk, but I never felt like part of it.

Of course the odds are that's just because of how I tick and how I perceive the world. I'm certainly not fleeing the place I know to some completely unknown town (to me, obviously) with any romantic motion of finding everything better there. It won't be and it'll even take time to get back to the level of smiles and ones on the streets that I'm used to now.

As I was preparing to leave with my groceries, grabbing some change for the homeless newspaper seller, my eyes started to fog over.

I tipped the guy with the homeless newspaper roughly 10 dollars and walked home in a haze.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

palin-drome

Today, let's explore the lighter, slightly *cough* geekier side to Subtle Knife.

Anu Garg over at A.Word.A.Day compiled this week's words with the (vice-)presidential candidates from the two major parties in the US elections in mind. Besides barrack, obambulate, meeken and bidentate, he offered us palinode.

(A palinode, if you didn't already know, is "A poem in which the author retracts something said in an earlier poem" and its Greek components are palin (again) and oide (song).)

The word palin is also found in palindrome (which I'm not even going to explain, I expect more of my readers than that), an apt example of which can be found in the A.Word.A.Day newsletter (issue 330):

Wasilla's all I saw.

good point

Has anyone on the McCain/Palin Campaign wished Obama's Grandma Prayers or Best Wishes?

I thought that sort of thing was standard practice...

Saturday, 25 October 2008

the development of language

Savage chickens

Too @!#* true!

(found at Language Log)

births of Hermes, Apollo, Artemis and Dionysus

Zeus lay with numerous nymphs and after the creation of man, with mortal women too. He fathered four great Olympian deities:

Hermes on Maia, daughter of Atlas.

Apollo and Artemis on Leto, daughter of Coeus and Phoebe, after Hera decreed that she would not be delivered in any place where the sun shone and sent the serpent Python to pursue her.

Dionysys, whose mother is variously named as Demeter, Io, Dione and Persephone, but the common story is that Zeus, disguised as a mortal, had a love-affair with Semele, daughter of King Cadmus. When she was six months pregnant, Hera spurred her on to demand from her lover to show himself in his true form, so she would know who he was. When Zeus refused, she denied him acces to her bed. In a rage he appeared as thunder and lightning and she was consumed. But Hermes saved the child, sewing it up into Zeus' thigh where it matured for the next three months.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

That's it for now, my book of myths has been packed and ready to be moved to my new apartment. To be continued.

Friday, 24 October 2008

self-explanatory

Amidst all the uproar over his courageous stand against his bishop and his following suspencion Father Geoff Farrow made me laugh earlier this week. Here's his suggestion for straight men who want to know why marriage equality is important when domestic partnership is available:

try this: Inform your girlfriend that you've decided you'd like to enter into a Domestic Partnership with her, instead of marriage. I am certain that she will be able to explain the HUGE difference between the two realities in a far more forceful and colorful way than, I would ever be able to accomplish.

He also advises the gentlemen to wear a protective cup.

the last word

I always have to have the last word. Even if it is a smiley.
-- Subtle Knife

Of course this wasn't something I realised for the first time yesterday, but my messenger conversation with a colleague in another department did make me look up and make a formal declaration.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

theory and practice of walking in high-heeled shoes

Today I wore my 2" heeled shoes to work. It was a spur of the moment decision, as I was almost running out of the door, because the jeans I was wearing are rather long, cut to be worn with heels rather than flat shoes.

The problem with these shoes is that I bought this summer and have hardly worn them since. Once in a while I think "I really should get used to them", walk in them for an hour or so, kick them off and sit down. I have trouble with my feet every time I buy new shoes.

Still it may have been a bit optimistic to wear them all day. A nice colleague lent me a stick that you rub on those areas that get the most friction and that really helped for a while. I remember using spray-on bandage in a similar way in the past.

All this has not got much to do with this guide to walking in high heels which I consulted. I was especially interested in the art of walking down stairs.
When wearing high heels on a staircase, always use the rail if it is available, or at least be close enough to a rail that you can reach it if you need to. When climbing steps, your entire shoe heel and sole should land firmly at once on each step.

Trying to put my feet down 'flat' when going downstairs, even with heels on, makes it feel like I'm falling backwards.

like the corners of my mind

The National Memory Test was on TV tonight, but I forgot.

Monday, 20 October 2008

more kd

kd lang @ KCRW
source: KCRW

kd lang - watershedWith thanks to Lisa, who mentioned that kd lang recently performed to raise funds for KCRW.

Go here to watch or listen. I'm only a couple of songs in, but I'm loving it! EDIT: There's also a really funny interview in part 1.

There are more artists listed in their media player. After I've finished part 1 and part 2, I'll be checking out the Carole King video (from last year, how did I miss that?)

You simply can't go wrong with these ladies.

Saturday, 18 October 2008

moral

Don't open an old but previously unused bottle of super glue over your laptop computer, not even after you cover part of it with an old envelope.

Right dad?

Zeus and Hera

Zeus controlled his quarrelsome family on Mount Olympus only with the threat of his thunderbolt. When his mother Rhea, foreseeing what trouble his lust would cause, forbade him to marry, he violated her. He fathered the Seasons and the three Fates on Themis; the Charites on Eurynome; the Muses on Mnemosyne; and some say Persephone, the Queen of the Underwolrd, on the nymph Styx.

Vexed by his infidelities, Hera often humiliated Zeus. At one point his pride and petulance became so intolerable that Hera, Poseidon, Apollo and the other Olympians except Hestia tied him up with rawhide thongs while he was asleep. The Nereid Thetis, foreseeing civil war over his succession, fetched the hundred-handed Briareus, who swiftly untied all the thongs.

As the leader of the conspiracy, Zeus hung Hera up from the sky by golden bracelets anround her wrists and an anvil fastened to either ankle. Only when the other deities swore never more to rebel did he release her.Poseidon and Apollo were sent as bond-servants to King Laomedon, for whom they built the city of Troy.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

live from Tivoli, tonight!

I'm at Tivoli in Utrecht waiting for artha Wainwright to start. The opening band are too bland. There's a smoker's lounge at the back and K's chatting. I'll let you know when there's more to say.

K and I both think we saw a bartender from Prik. Martha just started.

She's rocking! The crowd are noisy. "I gotta just interject... You can talk when the band's on, but for the solo's... I can't understand why you're talking." Then a large part of the audience told the others to SHUSH!

Encores Dis, Quand Reviendras-Tu and - with Brad on drums, Matt on Martha's guitar, the guitarist on bass and Sylvan on keyboard (Lily still doing backing vocals) - See Emily Play.

It was great to see all the old faces again. Now I'm waiting for her to sign my new copy of an EP I already own.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

just the one, please

Shock news!
The Dutch may be known as big drinkers [it doesn't say where this is known, SK], in reality things are not as bad as they seem. In fact: practically no-one in Europe drinks as little pure alcohol per capita as in The Netherlands. Only Greeks, Italians and Swedes use less alcohol.

Luxemburgers top the list. In 2003 they drank the equivalent of 12,6 liters of pure alcohol per head [3,3 gallons]. The Dutch managed just 7,9 [2 gallons], according to the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS).

Source: ANP

(I think K. may be skewering the results.)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Joe Six Pack strikes back

Dear Ms. Palin,

Yup, that's me, Joe Six Pack. I heard you mention my name a few times lately. You seem to think that just because you call me by name and give me that cute little wink that I'll rush right out and vote Republican on November 4. I guess you don't know ol' Joe as well as you think you do--not by a long shot.

First off, although I do enjoy my brewskis, I find it a little condescending of you to keep bringing it up all the time. That's just not very polite. People are going to think that I have a drinking problem. Plus, there's so much more to me than this six pack under my arm. I'm a family man, Ms. Palin. I've got a whole bunch of people at home who are depending on me to bring home the bacon. Mouths to feed and all that. I work hard for my money. I doubt you ever worked that hard in your whole life, but I won't make any assumptions. I know as little about you as you do about me.

Here's one thing you apparently don't know: it's getting a whole lot harder to keep putting food on my table. Hell, last month, I couldn't even afford that six pack, that's how tough it is. My beer money has turned into gas money, and rent money, and food money. My 401k has taken a serious hit in the last couple of weeks. We're in the middle of huge economic crisis. I thought I'd better let you know that, too, since I hardly ever hear you mention it. I've barely been able to put anything away toward my retirement, what with the high cost of daily living. My nest egg is dwindling away before my eyes and all I hear you yapping about is how Barack Obama "pals around with terrorists". I guess I'll be working until the day I die. I hope to God I'll have a few six packs to comfort me in my old age. It doesn't look like I'll have much else.

I'd sure like be able to put my kids through college. They're awfully smart, and I'm sure they'll amount to much more than their Joe Six Pack poppa, but the tuition at most colleges is way out of reach for a guy like me. There isn't much financial assistance for middle class folks, and even the community colleges are getting out of our price range. Since they won't be getting much higher education, I sure hope there'll be jobs and affordable housing for my kids and my grandkids. Do you have any ideas about that? I'd sure like to hear them.

I won't even get into health care expenses. I've been needing to go to the doctor for a few things that have been bothering me, but I just can't afford the high deductable on my lousy medical insurance. My better half and my kids always come first with Joe Six Pack. That's just the kind of guy I am. It's too bad I have to make those kinds of choices regarding my health, but what else can I do? I hear you and Mr. McCain want to tax my health benefits, too. I can barely make ends meet now, so I don't know how that will help me any.

I heard you saying some pretty nasty things about Barack Obama on the TV. Folks at your rallies were shouting "off with his head" and "traitor" and other things that just aren't appropriate to say in public about a man running for President. Your running-mate, Mr. McCain, he tried to shut them up and he got booed by the crowd. Booed. That's just wrong. I may be Joe Six Pack, but my momma taught me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Sure, not many men can best me in a bar fight, but that's where I leave my potty mouth--in the bar. You should teach your supporters to do the same thing because I won't have any of that.

Do you know what me and my friends talk about when were sitting out on the back porch with our six packs? Lately, we've been talking about the economy. Some of us are afraid we won't be able to keep our houses. Some of us are worried about losing our jobs. We're pissed off that fuel prices are so high that we can't drive our cars or heat our homes. I never thought we'd be scared that the money we've saved might just disappear overnight. We sure would appreciate it if you and Mr. McCain would stop the name calling and let us know your plan for fixing this mess.

P.S. It's the economy, stupid. Even an ignorant, beer drinking bumpkin like me knows that one.

This was posted in the comments over at Joe.My.God. To give credit where credit was due, I followed the trail back to the source, Aberrant Clone.

hello, pumpkin!



Perhaps this year I should try out this strange American tradition I heard of... I believe this site has some nice examples. It even has instructions for pumpkin virgins like myself.

Now where to get ones hands on one of those big orange things over here? There's lots of tacky Halloween stuff around, but I can't remember seeing actual pumpkins. O wait, I'm going to be in Germany that day. At least I'll be with a lot of Americans. But I don't think there's room for a pumpkin in Ellen.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

a most peculiar feeling

Well it's a most peculiar feeling, like sunburn in the evening
With dark clouds on their way
And you think it's most unlikely life could ever shine as brightly
Once the sun has gone and the pressure's on
And the rain is here again

Don't Need The Sunshine - Catatonia (listen here)

Or as Placebo said: "Baby, did you forget to take your meds?" Answer: I'm not sure... One night turns pretty much into another when you have to take them every day and even when I am positive, a little while later it may dawn upon me that actually what I'm thinking of happened last Thursday.

Honestly I don't forget them that often and I'm really not positive that I forgot them last night. Sunday night, now, that's a different story... Between not taking my happy pills and not being to sleep very well excacerbated by inconsiderate parents (after all those years of "Keep quiet, your father's asleep!") I was extremely irritable all day Monday. Of course I didn't warn my parents to be quiet Monday night - even after missing just one day that's just out of the question, although for some reason I'm still always able to function at work. Perhaps because that's not personal - and had another difficult time going to sleep. But because I had taken my medication that night, on Tuesday I told my mother that they had been keeping me up with their talking right outside my door and it stopped.

So this morning I woke up with a weird, numb, feeling, like I was not just looking at the world through a veil, but all my senses were slightly dulled. Weird, but not unfamiliar. I took a shower and after I turned off the tap, I realised that all I'd done was stand there, swaying, in the stream of hot water. I had to turn it back on to wash. Plus I'm very horny. That also happens when I miss a happy pill, which is very reassuring, really, because it means they haven't permanently affected my libido - not that I'm complaining about it even when I'm on the pills.

Let me make this clear: nobody worry about me, I'm keeping a close eye on me, it's a Sunday, so I don't have to do anything, I'll just take it easy and get ready for work in the morning.

Just a few songs that seem to go through my head on days like this:

Beautiful Ones - Suede
Brazen (Weep) - Skunk Anansie
Don't Need the Sunshine - Catatonia
Everybody Hurts - R.E.M.
Foolish Love - Rufus Wainwright
Hallelujah - k.d. lang
In My Arms - Rufus Wainwright
Numb - Pet Shop Boys
Meds - Placebo
Zombie - The Cranberries

And now I'm off to watch Merlin.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

pinko!

socialist

Ooh yeah, this is such a surprise. OK Cupid has me pegged as a socialist. Now I'll never get to visit my friends in the US again...

I would like to add that they seem to have a rather broad definition of socialism. What I would call myself is a social democrat or a democratic socialist. I want to bring about social and economic justice through democratic means. That's not too much to ask, surely?

international appeal

flagsI had no idea how international the appeal of my blog is. Just look at the last ten visitors to my blog: Italy, The Netherlands (that one's me, actually), The Netherlands again, Qatar, Japan, India, Canada, Yemen (the flag looks a lot like The Netherlands when they're this small) and the USA (twice, the second one didn't fit in the screencap, one was from Illinois, the other Nebraska).

So what do I do now to fill up all of this space? That's the appeal of blogging to me, really, the fact that this screen looks full pretty fast, and even if I do only post a one-liner, because of the other messages on the page it doesn't look so bad.

On the other hand the preview function isn't much help to me. Quite the opposite really. It's not a good reflection of the template lay-out (I assume it's just the bog-standard basic Blogger lay-out that's used for the previews). I really only use it to see if I haven't got any funny code in there. Not that there's any exciting code in these posts, all I do is check if links and pictures are working, if italics have been properly closed etc. That's about the extent of my knowledge of html, but I'm good at copying things, so if I see something interesting, I could use it.

The only problem is that this page soon gets too busy for my tastes. Remember when I had all that stuff in the right-hand column, headlines, my eBay purchases, this day in history? I gave it a try but I just couldn't stand it.

Thinking of flags made me do a little online search and found there are several sets you can download for free. I have no idea if they'll ever be any use to me, but I nabbed these just in case.

Hera and her children

Hera, daughter of Cronus and Rhea, had the Seasons as her nurses. After defeating Cronus, Hera's twin brother Zeus sought her out and courted her. She wasn't interested but he tricked her by taking on the form of a bedraggled cuckoo. When she warmed it in her bosom, Zeus took on his own form again and ravished her, shaming Hera into marriage.

As a wedding gift, Mother Earth gave her a tree with golden apples and the wedding night lasted three hundred years. Together they had Ares, Hephaestus and Hebe, though some say Ares and his twin sister Eris were conceived when Hera touched a flower, Hebe when she touched a lettuce and that Hephaestus was also her parthenogenous child. Others say that Hephaestus was her son by Talos, nephew of Daedalus. Hera regularly bathes in a sprong to renew her virginity.

Hebe was made cup-bearer to the gods and eventually married Heracles, after Ganymedes had usurped her office.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

people say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865 - 1946), Afterthoughts (1931) "Myself"


It's funny how you desperately want to read some books and others you just want to have read. In the space of seven days I read Neuromancer and The Life of Pi and enjoyed both of them immensely. Then I started The Sorrow of Belgium and after three days I'm still only a dozen or so pages in... I know that you can find summaries etc. quite easily, especially since the advent of the internet, but meant it exactly the way I said it before: I want to have read it. It's just the process of getting there that's the problem on this one.

In a way it's a good thing, because most of my books are now packed away in moving boxes, so I can't really afford to start ripping through this one until after the move, which is still just over a month away. Unless of course I start buying more new ones, which I almost did yesterday. I was looking at Paul Verhoeven's book on Jesus...

Thursday, 9 October 2008

funerals

Today one of my favourite agony uncles, Father Tony, tackles another tricky question on his Bilerico column. (I have always pronounced and still feel the urge to pronounce this as bileRIco instead of bilERico...) I'm posting this here, because it doesn't quite fit as a reply at the original post.

Cecilia asks how to handle a Baptist preacher and her father's siblings on organising her father's funeral. This reminds me somewhat of my grandmother's funeral.

Afterwards, her surviving brothers and sisters wrote an angry letter to the priest for saying a Latin mass instead of using the Dutch, as she had put in writing beforehand.

However, I'm pretty sure her (grand)children didn't care and I'm 100% convinced she wouldn't have. Not only did she adore him, but the man had been in hospital for an operation in between administering her the last rites and the funeral. Unlike the Baptist preacher in question, he knew my grandmother well and despite there being a replacement available - he looked like the lectern was the only thing holding him up - insisted on doing this. So he got the language wrong, who cares?

I've mentioned this before, but my grandmother asked an uncle who held power of attorney to take her mother's gold watch from her home and keep it safe to be given to me after her death. But the aunt everyone feared would object to this never even commented on it.

I'll be turning 36 soon, perhaps I should start putting a few things down in writing (I'll just have a leaf through Singing the Living Tradition and a dozen hymns and readings will come to me...

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

stuck and abandoned

9PM. I'm upstairs with one of my parents' dogs, who is suffering from separation anxiety.

He can't be downstairs, though, because the other dog is getting a visit from a bitch. Apparently she's not into threesomes...

And he would probably gnaw off his paw despite it not being stuck if he were let alone, so I'm stuck.

In a small room with a panting, slobbering, whining dog.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

the birth of Aphrodite

Aphrodite, Goddess of Desire, rose naked from the foam of the sea and rode a scallop shell ashore. Grass and flowers sprang from the soil wherever she trod. The Seasons, daughters of Themis, hastened to clothe and adorn her.

Some hold she sprang from the foam which gathered atbout the genitals of Uranus after Cronus threw them into the sea, others that Zeus begt her on Dione.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

The Fates

The three conjoined Fates were begotten by Erebus on Night, their names are Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos. Zeus weighs the lives of men and informs the Fates so that the thread of life, spun on Clotho's spindle and measured by the rod of Lachesis, can be snipped by Atropos' shears. Some hold that even Zeus is subject to the Fates, because they are not his children, but parthenogenous daughters of the Great Goddess Necessity, who is called The Strong Fate.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

my purse and my preciousss

Today I went out to buy my brother and his wife a birthday present for my parents (I got a call from Mom last night to ask if I could please pick up a DVD box set - I won't say which one - as it was on sale and I work next to a mall...) and was seduced by a purse. I still got the DVDs, though.

Now, she isn't one of those hoity-toity designer purses, <whisper>she's not even real leather</whisper>, but I saw her in the window and I knew I had to have her. I tried to deny it, looking at the other purses there, including an identical version in a different colour (turquoise), but I just had to have this one. It's the colour of freshly picked lavender, a rich blue with purple tinges. I know that's what it is because I googled colours until I found the right illustration:

lavender

Preciousss seems to be on strike. Actually she seems to be working fine, it's just the lack of connection that's a bit of a downer. I'll have to call the phone company tomorrow (from work, since I don't have a landline) to find out what's wrong.

EDIT (Monday): Precious is working again, it turned out to be something stupid like turning off automatic roaming and choosing the new provider (the one that bought my old provider) manually.

false modesty, false pride

When Joe.My.God. asked his Open Thread Thursday question this morning - "Do you have a "type"? If so, has it changed since you've gotten older?" - I replied, flippantly: "male humans ;-)"

Partly, because for fun and sex I don't really have a type, but partly the reason was that I get uncomfortable saying that for a relationship I want a man who is (almost) as intelligent as myself. Unfortunately that rules out about 99% of the population. He needs to have very broad interests, not pretend to listen to my latest favourite bit of trivia thinking he could be watching Survivor, but ready to counter with a (however tangentially) related story. He should have a reasonable understanding of the political climate of at least a handful of countries and a general idea about several others, international relations, history, economics and a few more subjects.

I'm not asking for much.


By the way, I'm still stupid in many ways, a high IQ does not prevent you from doing the dumbest things.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

transcending mystery and wonder

flaming chaliceI was supposed to organise next week's UU service, but another member apparently thought so too. He has prepared a service around a sermon titled "The experience of transcending mystery and wonder in daily life" and I'm very much looking forward to it.

I also appreciate the mystery that has allowed me some more time to write the sermon that K. will be giving and choose the texts and hymns. It shouldn't be too hard, since we UU's seem to be pretty good at signalling problems and adressing them. The UUA, with whom we are affiliated, has a book that spans 400 pages describing its Social Justice Statements from 1961 to the present. You can find a search engine and link to the .pdf file on this page.

Our Fellowship is very small and it would be insane to even think about matching the UUA's efforts, but we can definitely do more (and make it more structured) than we are now. So I will be proposing that we as the members choose a couple of fields of special interest, from each of which we could then pick one project to support, through a financial donation or in kind.

I'm already a UUSC first responder, by the way. It's focus areas - besides humanitarian crises - are civil liberties, economic justice and enviromental justice.


PS. On a completely different note: should I get a flaming chalice tattoo? In my mind the circles and the chalice are silver, with the flame bursting through the confines of its surroundings and a glow (plus more flames, lifelike, not stylised) all around it.

EDIT: Did anyone else get Paul Simon's Boy In A Bubble stuck in their head after this post?
These are the days of miracle and wonder
This is the long distance call

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

cosy

Some of my friends (K!) will be shocked to read this:

I lit the heater today and it's up way high...

Zeus and Metis

Some say Athene had a father named Pallas, a winged goatish giant. After he attempted to outrage her, she made the aegis from his skin, put his wings on her own shoulders and added his name to hers. If the aegis isn't the skin of Medusa.

Others say her father was Itonus, king of Iton, whose daughter she killed by showing her the Gorgon's head. Still others say Poseidon was her father, but she disowned him and asked Zeus to adopt her.

But Athene's own priests tell the following story: Zeus lusted after the Titaness Metis and, though she changed into many shapes, caught her. An oracle predicted she would bear a girl-child and if Metis conceived again, this son would depose Zeus - like Zeus had done to Cronus and Cronus to Uranus. Zeus swallowed Metis, but soon he got a headache.

Hermes figured out the cause and a hole was drilled in Zeus' skull. Out sprang Athene, fully armed, with a mighty shout.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Monday, 29 September 2008

the birth of Athene

Athene was born in Libya, beside a lake where she was found and nurtured by three nymphs who dressed in goat-skins. As a girl she killed her playmate Pallas by accident and as a token of grief took her name before her own.

There were more mythological personages named Pallas - a Titan, the 'father of the moon', the father of fifty Pallntids and the father of Athene herself - but these are all male, whilst Pallas means maiden.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

wow

me and Obama

Apparently I'm only 3 percent to the left of Barack Obama on economic issues and 3% more socially progressive. (Of course it doesn't say what the percentages are of, exactly.) So yeah, me and Obama, we're like this.

Anyhow, I took this test to tell me exactly what I already knew, namely that I agree with Obama far more than I agree with McCain. It's a bit worrying that they drew a circle around my results that actually touches the y-axis. They think I would vote for a centrist?

O yes, it also included a section on how knowledgeable, trustworthy, intelligent, decisive and a few more categories you deemed Obama, McCain, Clinton (Hillary) and Dubya. These were then represented as school grades: Obama and Clinton both scored an A-, McCain got a C+ and Dubya a big fat stinkin' F.

would you pay 150 euros for this?

blogging

Recently I've noticed, on those blogs that carry ads (with my traffic it's just not worth it, also, who really wants ugly banners that mess up your lay-out or just look plain wrong?) announcements for something called BLOG08, which is set to be held in Amsterdam on October 24th.

rockstars

Blogging is no longer the domain of the geeky kid. With easy-to-use blog software, everybody can start their own publishing platform. Millions of people do so. Together these bloggers are changing the world, one post at a time. They are the rockstars of the web.

I must say, I like the graphics and the message, that's certainly something. And it's in Amsterdam, which is definitely more convenient than almost anywhere else, but that's not enough of a reason to be there. It may also have something to do with the fact that I don't know any of their speakers but one, and that's not as a blogger but as a newsreporter.

My problem is not that it's on a Friday (I could take the day off, I have plenty of days left), or that I could use some tips to "get an active community on (my) blog" - no offense, darlings, but I don't think you can call an average of 7 regular visitors a community - "boost traffic to (my) blog" and "how to write original content". My problem is this:

tickets

I'm just not spending that much money on a day of sitting around talking about blogging. For the same money I'll be staying a whole weekend at a EUU retreat the week after this event. I can discuss blogging at home for the cost of an internet connection, a cup of coffee and some sandwiches!

NOT attending



(Maybe I should be cheeky and send this post in as my "one rockin' post".)

the dethronement of Cronus

Cronus married his sister Rhea, but it was prophesied that one of his own sons would dethrone him. Therefore he swallowed the children Rhea bore him: Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, Poseidon. Rhea was enraged and bore Zeus in the dead of night so that she could give him to Mother Earth, who left him to be nursed by nymphs in a cave on Crete. Pan was his foster-brother and together they drank milk from the goat-nymph Amaltheia, whose image Zeus would later set amongst the stars as the constellation of Capricorn. One of her horns became the Cornucopia or horn of plenty.

Rhea had given her husband a stone in swaddling clothes to swallow, but Cronus found out and pursued Zeus. The baby's cradle was hung in a tree so that Cronus might find him neither in heaven nor on earth and was guarded by the Curetes, Rhea's sons. [presumably by another father! SK] Their shouting and banging of spears against shields drowned the noise of the wailing infant.

Zeus grew up with the sheperds of Ida and when he was older, asked to be made Cronus' cupbearer. He gave his father an emetic potion and out came the stone, together with his older siblings. He led them in a ten-year war against the Titans, who, after this fiasco, had replaced Cronus as their leader by Atlas.

Zeus released the Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed Ores from Tartarus and in return they gave him the thunderbolt, Hades a helmet of darkness and Poseidon a trident, which they used to defeat Cronus: Hades stole Cronus' weapons without being seen, Poseidon distracted him with his trident and Zeus struck him down. All the male Titans were banished to a British island, far west, or Tartarus [one might wonder how much of a difference there is between these sentences... SK], except Atlas, who was made an example of, being ordered to carry the sky on his shoulders [not the earth!]. The Titanesses were spared.

Zeus set up the stone Cronus spat out at Delphis. Some say Rhea gave Cronus a foal to eat instead of Poseidon.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

the castration of Uranus

Uranus threw his rebellious sons, the Cyclopes, into Tartarus and then fathered the Titans upon Mother Earth. But she persuaded the Titans to attack their father and led by the youngest, Cronus, they surprised Uranus in his sleep. When Cronus castrated Uranus with a flint sickle, some drops of blood fell upon Mother Earth, who bore the three Erinnyes, furies who avenge crimes of parricide and perjury.

The Titans freed the Cyclopes and appointed Cronus ruler of the Earth. No sooner was he in charge or he threw the Cyclopes and the Hundred-handed Ores (back) into Tartarus.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

the five Ages of Man

Earth bore man spontaneously, as the best of her fruits, before even the Moon was. This was the golden race, who lived without cares or labour and lived off the plants and trees they found. They didn't grow old and danced and laughed much. Their spirits still survive as genii of happy music retreats, givers of good fortune and upholders of justice.

The silver races was also divinely created. They ate bread and had a matriarchal society, were quarrelsome and didn't sacrifice to the gods. Zeus destroyed them.

The brazen race fell like fruits from the ash-trees and were armed with brazen weapons. They ate flesh as well as bread and delighted in war. Black Death seized them.

The fourth race was also brazen, but begotten by gods on mortal mothers, making them nobler and more generous. These were the heroes who fought the Trojan War and went on the expedition of the Argonauts.

The fifth race is the race of iron that lives today, the unworthy descendants of the fourth.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

say it with flowers

Friday, September 26

Some days I arrive at the bus shelter around the corner to find the floor strewn with rose petals. My imagination takes flight, ignoring the mundane explanations logic tries to suggest.

They're from a man whose wife is very ill, possibly she has a kidney disease and needs to go into hospital all the time for dialysis, yet she insists on doing everyday chores as much as possible. When she goes shopping she takes the bus instead of her bike and he makes sure she walks on rose petals as a token of his love for her.

There's a family in my neighbourhood who are part of an obscure Eastern religion. Recently they've been blessed to have an important spiritual teacher take the time to come visit their live-in grandmother and debate obscure points of philosophy. Obviously such an esteemed religious leader warrants rose petals. (This does not apply to Unitarian Universalists, so nobody get their hopes up. Unless of course I become Supreme Leader.)

It's a new sport, the latest fad after parcours, a mix between tag and the old florists' slogan "say it with flowers", in which the aim is to shower your opponent with petals. Unfortunately there's one competitor who is very much like the fat kid that always tried to hide behind the curtains during hide-and-seek and keeps getting caught in the bus shelter...

The god Zeus - in my not-so-humble (to say otherwise would be hypocritical) opinion a much more credible god than Jesus' dad - is widely known as a horny god for all his extra-marital affairs, but I disagree. You see, he's not been getting any at home for thousands of years, so I think he has earned the right to take a couple dozen lovers. Exactly how does that crazy bitch Hera figure she's entitled to get jealous over that? Anyway, the rose petals are obviously the leftovers of Zeus' secret assignations. When he found the pretty girl (or boy, can't forget the precedent set by Ganymede) he was after, he shed the rose disguise, petals and all. Passionate love ensued.

I always knew

I can't seem to find my previous post about it, but I took this test before. I think this blog scored graduate level back then.

Apparently the level of my writing has gone up:

blog readability test

two philosophical creation myths

Some say from Darkness sprang Chaos, from a union between Darkness and Chaos sprang Night, Day, Erebus and the Air.
From a union between Night and Erebus sprang Doom, Old Age, Death, Murder, Continence, Sleep, Dreams, Discord, Misery, Vexation, Nemesis, Joy, Friendship, Pity, the Three Fates and the three Hesperides.
From a union between Air and Day sprang Mother Earth, Sky and Sea.
From a union between Air and Mother Earth sprang Terror, Craft, Anger, Strife, Lies, Oaths, Vengeance, Intemporance, Altercation, Treaty, Oblivion, Fear, Pride, Battle and also Oceanus, Metis, the older Titans, Tartarus and the three Erinnyes or Furies.
From a union between the Sea and its Rivers sprang the Nereids, but there were no mortal men until Proteus, with the consent of Athene, formed them in the likenes of gods, after which Athene breathed life into them.

The God of All Things (some call him Nature) appeared suddenly in Chaos, separated earth, heavens, water, air and shaped the earth, created climates and dressed it with plants. He set the firmament with stars above it, made fish, beasts, sun, moon and lastly, man. Unless Prometheus created man's body from water and clay and wondering divine elements shaped his soul.
This second myth was borrowed from the Babylonian Gilgamesh epic, in which the goddess Aruru creates the first man from a piece of clay. Thus the Greeks, as well as the Jews (who inherited the Pelasgian/Canaanite traditions) were slightly embarrassed that there may have been a Creatrix. In the book of Genesis a female "Spirit of the Lord" broods on the face of the water (but lays no egg). In the Talmudic version of creation, the archangel Michael creates Adam from dust.

The Greek philosopher distinguished between Promethean man and the imperfect earth-born creation. In Genesis there is a similar distinction between the "Sons of God" and the "daughters of men" they married.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

the Olympian creation myth

Mother Earth emerged from Chaos and bore Uranus as she slept. He then showered rain upon her surface, which bore plants and animals. Her first children of semi-human form were three hundred-handed giants, followed by the one-eyed Cyclopes.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

the Homeric and Orphic creation myths

Some say that all gods and all living creatures originated in the stream of Oceanus and that Thetys was their mother, but the Orphics say that Night was courted by the Wind and laid a silver egg in the womb of Darkness. From this egg hatched Eros, who set the Universe in motion.

Eros was double-sexed, golden-winged and had four heads. The son created earth, sky, sun and moon, but the mother, manifesting herself as Night, Order and Justice ruled the universe until her scepter passed to Uranus.


Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

the Pelasgian creation myth

In the beginning, Eurynome, the Goddess of All Things, rose naked from Chaos and divided the sea from the sky. By dancing on the waves she set the winds in motion. When she rubbed the north wind between her hands, the great serpent Ophion (1) was created and after he coupled with Eurynome, she, taking the form of a dove, laid the Universal Egg out of which tumbled all things that exist.

She then created seven planetary powers and set a Titan and a Titaness to rule over each. The first human was Pelasgus, who sprang from the soil of Arcadia.


(1) Graves identifies Ophion with the serpent Hemiurge of Hebrew and Egyptian myth.

Robert Graves, The Greek Myths. Complete Edition.

Greek myth

At the start of the year I came into posession of eight boxes filled with books, some of which I have already mentioned. One of those books is a copy of Robert Graves' The Greek Myths. Complete Edition, first published in 1955 but revised in 1960 (this edition 1992).

Graves, with whom I was mostly familiar because of the Claudius-novels (remember Derek Jacobi in the TV series I, Claudius?) was also, perhaps in his heart primarily, a poet. And wouldn't you know it> Life dealt me one of those little coincidences again, the kind that make you wonder if there is any coincidence at all, if even for a short while.

In this case, just as I started reading Graves' re-telling of the Greek myths, I grabbed another book from one of the boxes, John Irving's Until I Find You. The main character, Jack, is a movie star who takes a part in a film about a wheelchair-bound male model, Harry Mocco:

The voice-over, which is Harry Mocco's, is all love poetry. Everything from the grimmest of the grim, Thomas Hardy, to Philip Larkin; everything from George Wither to Robert Graves. (There was too much Graves, in Jack's opinion.)

When Harry Mocco has wheelchair accidents in The Love Poet, the voice-over is heavy on Robert Graves. (A little of Graves goes a long way. "Love is a universal migraine," for example.)

Or:

Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls
Married impossible men?
Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out
And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.

I remembered I had written about this when I grabbed The Greek Myths to check up on the story of Ganymede. But that's another story.

Anyway, I thought that, since I spent so much time on the train summarising some of these myths from his book, I might share them with you.

Friday, 26 September 2008

cows in the mist

Friday, September 26

Forget about gorillas in the mist, this morning it's cows. I love when the Dutch fields have one of those low-hanging fogs that rise up. In most places it forms a white blanket of a couple of feet high. I wonder what the cows think when they look out over it.

crazy, I

Thursday, September 25

When you are in The Netherlands and you see a fat woman scribbling furiously in a little notebook, don't assume she's crazy. Be assured, it's me.

crazy I

Thursday, September 25

When you are in The Netherlands and you see a fat woman scribbling furiously in a little notebook, don't assume she's crazy. Be assured it's me.

paper bag

Wednesday, September 24

Walking out of the station with a paper bag of groceries under my arm I feel so American. David Sedaris caught my Dutch accent almost immediately, but then he's a natural observer. Other US natives have been known to look suprised when I swore I was Dutch.

I wonder what this blog's accent sounds like.

second language

Thursday, September 25

The girl next to me is studying Individual differences in second language learning with her fingers in her ears whilst the woman across from us it chattering away in a combination of Dutch and another language.

dome

Wednesday, September 24

Have you noticed how some days, even with all the noise of a fair-sized train- cum busstation, just sound more quiet than others? It's as if there's a blanket or a glass dome over your immediate surroundings and no outside noise can penetrate it. There is a certain closeness to the sky, literally, as this only happens on overcast days, that makes the world seem smaller. Inside, the effect is lost.

the coughing season

Wednesday, September 24

This morning on the train to work - only six hours after I climbed off the train from Amsterdam last night, I noted with a yawn - it became clear to me that today was the official start of a new season. Never mind the meteorological seasons or astronomical calculations, my seasons are determined by such tangible things as the appearance of flip-flops, the disappearance of coats, a critical mass of woolly scarves and of coruse the preponderance of coughs and sniffles.

It was a discrete but distinct chorus that greeted me this morning in the half-full compartiment (which effectively means that there is one person on each two-seater bench and unless one judges the other compartiments similarly uninviting it is the custom to keep moving), announcing to the world, or at least my sleep-addled brain, the start of the coughing season.

I pray to the gods that may or may not be that this won't be a repeat of last year, with a coughing season that lasted into May (completely overlapping Woolly Scarves and No More Coats) and saw me get sick three times in the final two months. Not that I felt particularly ill, I just sounded like I was bringing up my stomach, its contents and probably about six fingers of my duodenum when I had a coughing fit. Add another five minutes to catch my breath and ten to recover enough energy to lift an arm and you can understand why people might get worried. But besides that - and perhaps losing my voice - I felt fine.

Of course that was an illusion and after a week or so it had worn me down almost to the point that I called in sick. After that it was the tiredness, that never allowed me to fully recover and that made me susceptible to the next bug that came along, that wreaked havoc.

I wish I could do as the North African-looking woman who very kindly showed me the way from the main trainline to the local service at a station in Paris in January. She was wearing a face-mask, I believe in response to an increased SARS-alert at the time. But it'll be a fashion statement when I do it. Seriously.

So Coughs and Sniffles is upon us and remember that the defenition of a bug is that it sucks.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

proto-hags

Wednesday, September 24

I have to write some more about the David Sedaris event last night because I noticed the composition of the crowd. The John Adams Institute offers reserved seating to its patrons, who are generally white, middle (to upper) class and middle-aged. There were many straight couples amongst these. Then there was a whole bevvy of young women, twenty-something American girls who, most of them anyway, could easily have been mistaken for fag-hags if this were a more gay environment.

Instead, Sedaris talked about his boyfriend Hugh in a matter-of-fact way that seemed completely normal to me, but reflecting on it, may serve to open a few eyes when he starts his US book tour on Monday (30 cities in 31 days, what is he, some kind of rock star?) and my gaydar had a relatively quiet night - especially for Amsterdam! I can't recall seeing one gay couple. Please correct me, but I think Sedaris is one of the few writers who have managed a career as a gay author without being labelled "a gay author".

The idea of the proto-hag fascinates me. (And let me just say that I don't like the expression hagettes, because nothing should rhyme with baguettes.) I suppose that, in true human fashion, I want to figure out what makes all of us hags tick. I see the potential in these young women and think to myself "if only they meet the right gay man", but I also realise that a lot of them will slip into their thirties with at the most a couple of dinner parties with the gay couple down the road or perhaps drinks with one of her gay colleagues.

Is it really about meeting the right man? Now we might as well be discussing my love-life: am I single because I enjoy it (Mr. Busdriver is a fuckbuddy, not a potential Mr. Right) or because I haven't found Mr. Right yet? And if the latter applies, are my criteria such that none may meet them or should I keep looking be cause he is out there, somewhere?

Back to those girls, sorry, young women. I may be ten to fifteen years older than them, but I only have five years of experience with exclusive fag - hag relationships (this means that he may "cheat" on me with as many men as he wants, but I'm the only woman for him) but in that period we have weathered financial crises, marrage breakdown, depression, panic attacks, the Immigration Service and STDs, all the time having to make my haggery up on the spot.

Perhaps what I could have benefited from and what the older generation (myself included) could offer these proto-hags is guidance. We can be mentrices to them, help them find their inner hag, whether they ever catch the right fag or not.

Gay bar etiquette 101 is about to start down the hall, please line up in a disorderly fashion. Across the hall you will be fashionably late for the advanced class on how to procure drugs.

undo the laces

Me Talk Pretty One Day

Tuesday, September 23

Tonight I met David Sedaris. I had bought two copies of his latest book When You Are Engulfed In Flames in advance, so that K. and I could each have one signed.

Sedaris read several stories, some not (yet) published and excerpts from his diaries -including a number of "a man walks into a bar"-jokes he googled one day and the confession of a stewardess giving a whole new meaning to the words crop dusting - followed by an interview with former US correspondent for Dutch public news, Tim Overdiek, including a few questions from the apparently reticent crowd.

A few minutes into Sedaris' reading (after an introduction from someone from the organisers, the John Adams Institute, and one from Overdiek) K. got up and staggered out. That is to say, he got up and staggered into the back wall, disappearing behind one of the curtains that were lining three sides of the venue. He was retrieved and led outside by someone.

It may sound harsh, but I know him and I know he always finds his way home. So I didn't rush after him. The curtain incident, combined with his recent fall off the edge of a canal whilst trying to enter a public convenience (he landed in a boat and survived with only a few bumps and bruises but managed to give his little sister a near heart attack, ruin the clasp on a Rolex and tear his suit) might have been cause for concern, but fifteen minutes later I received a text message from Sunshine, simply saying "K. is home".

The colleague K. had invited to the reading and I stayed until the end of the reading, although I didn't work up the courage to stand up and ask him how buying drugs in a North Carolina trailer compared to Amsterdam.

Missed opportunity, obviously.

I joined the queue, with my two books under my arm, at almost the end because I met a friend of K.'s who's been on the wagon for fourteen years and who could probably handle this situation much better than I could. I waited for almost an hour as the author graciously chatted with everyone who came up to him. Every book that was offered up in front of Sedaris received a personal inscription.

Like a good friend I not only handed him both mine and K.'s copies but made sure to tell him that my best friend had walked out after a few minutes and had gotten lostin the curtains at the back. At the time I thought that Sedaris was just that professional that he just pretended not to notice, but apparently he hadn't at all, so it was a good thing I stuck around to make sure he found out.

Following this disclosure he gave us matching inscriptions:

To K. My boozy friend

To M.J. My sober friend in Amsterdam

Then I suddenly remembered I'd been reading another book of his on the train commute, which I'd started before K. invited me. So he signed that too and very graciously told me that if it could happen to him - that someone just called him because they wanted to publish his work - it could happen to me.

Unfortunately he'll be leaving for London in the morning, because I would have gladly skipped work to take him shopping - even in Makkum (a competitor for Delft when it comes to earthenware). I would have convinced myself I was doing him a favour because he doesn't drive and Makkum must be at least a two-hour train ride away. Obviously I would have no ulterior motive at all.

Something else that he mentioned during the interview made an impression on me. Any aspiring writer should do well to keep it in mind: you have to persuade the reader to step into your shoes, you can't just slap them down on the floor and expect them to jump in. This will lead to objections about bunyons and such. So to start a story, find a way for people to connect, a person or situation they all recognise (in his case a pedantic teacher), or, as he put it, undo the laces and open up the shoes for them.

I'm not sure if I just followed his advise with this post or not, but if you're still reading I must have done something right.


EDIT: I just remembered I also didn't stand up and offer this joke, in honour of Talk Like a Pirate Day last week:

A pirate walks into a bar and orders a shot of rum.

The bartender fills his order with a look of surprise. As he hands him his drink he says: "Excuse me for asking, but... you seem to have a steering wheel attached to your genitals."

The pirate downs the drink, slams the glass on the bar and looks at the bartender: "Arr, it be drivin' me nuts!"