Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Beryl Cook, died today

Artist beryl cook

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Olbermann on top form


A sculpture of death personified.Image via WikipediaAs a gesture of support towards calls for an international response to the situation in Darfur, Sudan, I shall in future be playing only holes 6-12, regardless of the golf course involved. I trust this decision will be appreciated by the relatives of the dead, by the dying, and by those who are not dying yet, but may be at some point in the near future. Let them not go to their graves believing that I was not, in a very real sense, slightly put out by their predicament.

Thank you, and don't forget: at the centre of America stands ME. Not exactly at the centre, obviously, but if we quibble over such points, the terrorists have won.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Instant Rimshot

This is totally what every wise-cracker needs. In fact, I want one I can carry around. Awesome!

Instant Rimshot

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The Grapes are pressed

old desk set upTimes move on
Image by shell_s via Flickr
And the news as we wait here outside the Palace is that an equerry has just come out and pinned an official notice to the gate stating that Sour Grapes is dead, I repeat Sour Grapes has passed away. That's official confirmation that Sour Grapes is no more, and with that it's back to you in the studio.

Actually it happened nearly two weeks ago, and only comes again to the fore because normally this weekend I'd have had to write a new column, and instead I had the whole three-day break all to my jammy self. I basically loafed about, did a little bit of work, took Boy Ten to a soapbox derby sort of thing, visited a mate who's setting up a new music school, and not much more than that. Luxury.

Sour Grapes was born in January 2001, when Rachel Johnson, sister of London mayor Boris, left Brussels and bequeathed me her two-weekly slot at the back of the magazine. I was instructed to make it "acid and cynical".

That was more than seven years ago, or roughly 380 weeks, or 190 columns, which because of one thing or another (we were always the first thing to be jettisoned when ads exceeded expectations) was whittled down in reality to 164 published columns.

When The Bulletin's new editor said the magazine was about to undergo a complete makeover, and that Sour Grapes would have to go and live on a farm, my reaction was composed of equal parts relief and delight. Weight from the shoulders, chains from the ankles, etc.

So now I'm doing other things, some of which are visible at the Flanders Today website. That's a new weekly paper of which I'm news editor, as well as roving features writer on subjects like the movie In Bruges, the TV character Bumba and the Kryptos Quartet.

In the meantime I'm revisiting the Wordpress site where I had begun posting old published columns, and which I hadn't touched since December. This evening I posted five new entries, and gave the whole site an overhaul, using Zemanta to put in links, tags and pictures. I've mentioned Zemanta before, and though it has some teething trouble faults (too many holes in its coverage, way too US-centric) it's great for a bulk job like that.

The address of that site is Sour Grapes Through the Ages. You're very welcome to drop by. No flowers, please.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Better late than never

Hugo Claus

Belgium's foremost writer, he tackled controversial themes
Douglas Messerli
Friday May 2, 2008

The Guardian finally gets around to an obituary of one of Europe's most highly-regarded literary figures, who died on March 19, a good two weeks before.

Fortunately, the obituarist had put the time to good use, by digesting all of the obituaries which had gone before. Books

Sunday, 4 May 2008

On yer soapboxx [sic]

A tag cloud with terms related to Web 2.Image via WikipediaYou wouldn't think it was possible for someone to come up with an awesome new Web 2.0 site at this late stage, when we're all abandoning Facebook and ditching Twitter and so on, but I've found it.

Soapboxxer has aspects of Twitter, and also aspects of Usenet. You collect points like it was a game, but you can't do anything with them, like Technorati rank.

How it works is this:

Some soapboxxer dude posts an opinion. You get to agree or disagree. You may also post a comment in support of your position, and read comments by others. All this without signing up.

If you choose to sign up, for those all-important points (you can win a T-shirt if you have enough) it's the simplest of procedures. You can follow other posters, and they can follow you.

Some of the opinions are a bit lame, such as Apple>Microsoft, but others get good reactions, or allow you to show off. There's no threading, but some people appear to come back later and make new comments. Don't know if I could be bothered with that. Anyway I'm up to 396 points just from goofing around. Definitely something to drop in on once in a while, for some light relief. I'm all about light relief, me.

Friday, 2 May 2008

J.K. Rowling, Lexicon and Oz

JK Rowling, after receiving an honorary degree from The University of AberdeenImage via Wikipedia

Now she is suing somebody who has devoted years to promoting her work and making no money from his efforts ? which actually helped her make some of her bazillions of dollars.

Talent does not excuse Rowling's ingratitude, her vanity, her greed, her bullying of the little guy, and her pathetic claims of emotional distress.
I fully expect that the outcome of this lawsuit will be:

1. Publication of Lexicon will go on without any problem or prejudice, because it clearly falls within the copyright law's provision for scholarly work, commentary and review.

2. Rowling will be forced to pay Steven Vander Ark's legal fees, since her suit was utterly without merit from the start.

3. People who hear about this suit will have a sour taste in their mouth about Rowling from now on. Her Cinderella story once charmed us. Her greedy evil-witch behavior now disgusts us. And her next book will be perceived as the work of that evil witch.

It's like her stupid, self-serving claim that Dumbledore was gay. She wants credit for being very up-to-date and politically correct ? but she didn't have the guts to put that supposed "fact" into the actual novels, knowing that it might hurt sales.

What a pretentious, puffed-up coward.

J.K. Rowling, Lexicon and Oz

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Expelled exposed

Understanding this, the creationists took the morally fatal decision to campaign clandestinely. They overhauled creationism as “intelligent design,” roped in a handful of eccentric non-Christian cranks keen for a well-funded vehicle to help them push their own flat-earth theories, and set about presenting themselves to the public as “alternative science" engaged in a “controversy” with a closed-minded, reactionary “science establishment” fearful of new ideas. (Ignoring the fact that without a constant supply of new ideas, there would be nothing for scientists to do.) Nothing to do with religion at all!

I think this willful act of deception has corrupted creationism irredeemably. The old Biblical creationists were, in my opinion, wrong-headed, but they were mostly honest people. The “intelligent design” crowd lean more in the other direction. Hence the dishonesty and sheer nastiness, even down to plain bad manners, that you keep encountering in ID circles.

John Derbyshire on Expelled on National Review Online

Rough Diamond -- Second Thoughts Lyrics

The handprints of Neil Diamond in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.Image via WikipediaAn occasional series about the lyrics songwriters might not have written had they given it a second thought. This week, in celebration of the continuing massacre of popular music that is American Idol, the culprit is Neil Diamond, usually an unadventurous lyricist and therefore one not too prone to gaffes. However in I Am, I Said, he tried his hand at a bit of existential introspection:

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair

It goes on:

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king
And then became one
Well, except for the names and a few other changes
If you talk about me, the story's the same one

So he became a king, did he? Or is that just one of the "few other changes"?

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I've tried but it won't let me go
And I'm not a man who likes to swear
But I've never cared for the sound of being alone

The sound of being fucking alone, surely? Perhaps he didn't swear because he's not a man who likes to swear? In which case, why tell us?

Bad. Just bad. But! Not as bad as the job done on his twitching corpse by the shamsters of AI. Check it out on YouTube, with commentary (never miss it, every week) by The Harpoonist.