Tuesday, 30 September 2008

How to Hug a Girl - wikiHow

How to Hug a Girl - wikiHow:

# Don't hold her too tight, so don't squeeze her. Hold her firmly enough so she's comfortable. Just give her a light squeeze.

# Some hugs are like a teddy bear, others are like a fortress. Sometimes they are both. Keep that in mind.

# You may want to whisper something in her ear while you're hugging.

You can learn anything on the Internet these days.

Spam for beginners

Here’s another message I received, which if not spam is clueless in the extreme. It begins:

My name is Joan M. Miller, working with (WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOR HUMAN WELFARE) California, U.S.A. We are organizing a global Youths combined conferences taking place from November 19th - 22nd 2008 at Anaheim California in the United States and in, Dakar Senegal from 26th - 29th November 2008.

If they think I’m a youths, I’m almost tempted to go. I may not get another chance.

Spam and spammability

Illustration from Sense and Sensibility by Jan...

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a chunk from a spam email I received:

Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite their sakes avoid a breach with their brother. Elinor, this eldest daughter, whose advice was so which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught. Marianne's abilities were, in many which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again. They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every forbearance. Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored, well-disposed girl; but as she had everything reminded her of former delight, was exactly what suited her mind.

And here’s a passage from a completely different piece of spam:

Three thousand pounds! he could spare so considerable a sum with little the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, ever, had not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect on the propriety of to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and forbearance.

There’s much more, and so far one other similar message.

The alert reader will have spotted that the text is a quoted passage from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. My heart leapt when I saw it, because I imagined for a second they were targetting me individually. But I don’t think so.

I think all they’re doing is drowning the spam message in a huge wodge of text so that the message has less chance of setting off spam triggers. The spammers are awful ghastly rat bastards, obviously, but you have to admire their elegant taste in this instance.

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Sunday, 28 September 2008


Your Mind is Red

Of all the mind types, yours is the most impulsive.

If you think it, you do it. And you can get the bug to pursue almost any passion.

Your thoughts are big and bold. Your mind has no inhibitions.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about love, your dreams, and distant places.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Paul Newman

The most gorgeous man in the history of cinema has died. And one of the coolest.

I remember when Steve McQueen died, I was stricken by a kind of disbelief, because he was such an icon to me when I was growing up. This could not be happening, I was thinking, because icons don’t die.

I’m older now, but I still believe in the immortality of those I admire. Newman went on to grow old and frail, which McQueen never did, but it didn’t detract from his aura one little bit.

I’m no fanboy, but this one has me choking up. Newman got his big break in 1956, in Somebody Up There Likes Me. That’s when I started out, too. He’s been there all the time I have. And now he’s not there any more.

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Short shameful confession

Pecorino Sardo CheeseImage via WikipediaRooting around at midnight for something to snack on, as you do. I rummage in the fridge and find a piece of Fiore Sardo, a rich strong sheep's milk cheese I bought at the market and forgot about until now. As I unwrap it and start shaving pieces off, I suddenly realise that the panting noise I hear is coming from me. I'm attacking this piece of cheese like a wild animal. But I don't allow it to disgust me until after I've finished eating.

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Happy Birthday Go10ogle


Saturday, 20 September 2008

Friday, 19 September 2008

Don’t tell Kramer

My father, meanwhile, had settled into a chair next to Zephyr and had assumed the expression of a person straining to overhear some distant conversation. It is a look of intense disinterest, and I know it well. I fetched a vial labelled At the Beach 1966 and thrust it under his nose. With an upward roll of the eyes, he inhaled. Then he took the sample from my hand, sniffed again and nearly leapt to his feet: the scent had triggered a memory of summers he spent lifeguarding on Long Island as a teenager. On the CB website, Christopher describes the fragrance as "Coppertone 1967 blended with a new accord I created especially for this perfume--North Atlantic. The base of the scent contains a bit of Wet Sand, Seashell, Driftwood and just a hint of Boardwalk." If that sounds too fanciful to be true, you should smell it.

A report on a quirky perfume business.

HE HATES PERFUME | More Intelligent Life

Time's wingèd chariot

A statue of the poet Andrew Marvell, located i...Image via WikipediaI came in from work to an empty house, and fell asleep -- bad idea -- on the couch. Woke up with a sense of melancholy, as after a crying dream. The other day you spoke about going away, and now I felt that the time was already upon us.

The world stretches out in front of the young, to the far horizon. Time telescopes as you get older, and every future falls within reach. It doesn't matter how long it's going to be, in my eyes it's already here.
Andrew Marvell, in his marvellous poem To His Coy Mistress, writes:

But at my back I always hear
Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near
Read the rest of it here.
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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Name profiler

The map shows the frequency of the surname Grapes in Europe. As you can see, there are occurrences in Languedoc in France, in Lombardia in Italy, in Rogaland in Norway, and in East Anglia in England. Not shown: the Hawkes' Bay area of New Zealand, where the name is most prevalent.

Check out the worldwide distribution of your own name with the Name Profiler. I've already looked for a few people I know, including some of you, and it's remarkable detailed, right down to the local commune in one case.


Kids these days


The question we're all asking

Has the Large Hadron Collider destroyed the world yet?



The Particle Zoo: Subatomic Particle plushies

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Holiday snaps, could be, could be taken on holiday

Caen, Normandy, August 23, 2008.

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CHILL.jpg (image)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Modern manners: Talk to Grapesy

Dear Grapesy,

My girlfriend, a well-known diet guru, thinks my mistress is getting a bit heavy. She gave me some great tips to pass on, but if I do, I'm busted. Would it be terribly dishonest if I were to suggest they came from my wife, instead?

Dear Grapesy,

Is it considered acceptable, after you've shagged a bird you Bluetoothed in the toilets of a fake Irish pub, to send an SMS next morning to say thank you?

Dear Grapesy,

How long is it considered polite to wait after the wedding itself to put the videos of the groom having his balls painted with bootpolish and his eyebrows shaved off on YouTube?

Dear Grapesy,

A young man I see on the bus every morning has attracted my attention. He's very cute, and we've started smiling at each other and whatnot. He has an MP3 phone, but doesn't believe in headphones. My dad is hard of hearing, but not deaf. How far can I expect he'll ram the phone up my new boyfriend's arse when I bring him home for the first time?

More Modern Manners coming soon!

Shorts Shameful Confession

Tonight I took Boy Ten to swim training, and as I waited in the cafeteria type place, I was reading David Copperfield, and my eye was attracted to a woman about three tables down the aisle, sitting with three other people. She'd just come from tennis, and she was giving me a rather eye-catching upskirt, clearly visible from where I sat, and unlike the last time this happened in real life, I didn't have to drop my pencil to get a look.

So I was looking, as you do, trying not to be too obvious about it.

I must have lost my touch, because she saw me. Plain as day, she looked at me, then shifted position. I got up and walked away nonchalantly, but nothing changed. It was all gone. I was busted.

That's all. This story doesn't have a sexy ending (it didn't have a sexy middle or beginning either, it occurs to me). But there it is.

I got flashed. I can now say that truthfully, at least.

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Sunday, 7 September 2008


My wife left me. She took the kids.

Oh, all right. She left to go on a one-week training course in Germany, and she took the two kids to their respective friends to sleep-over so we could all get to our destinations in the morning.

Sometimes you can over-write a story, and lose the whole impact.

English as she will be spoke

2000 AD: We children beg you, teacher, that you should teach us to speak correctly, because we are ignorant and we speak corruptly...
3000 AD: *ZA kiad w'-exùn ya tijuh, da ya-gAr'-eduketan zA da wa-tAgan lidla, kaz 'ban iagnaran an wa-tAg kurrap...
That's how Americans will be talking in about a thousand years, according to a detailed study written by this guy.

The page is about halfway unreadable for anyone who's not a linguist, but the other half is okay. Think it's not likely? Here's what the first version above looked like when it was first written in 1000 AD:
1000 AD: Wé cildra biddaþ þé, éalá láréow, þæt þú taéce ús sprecan rihte, forþám ungelaérede wé sindon, and gewæmmodlíce we sprecaþ...
So, as you might expect, we're currently at the midpoint between two extremes. The finch hasn't stopped evolving, and neither has the way peeps talk.

To help you out a bit, here's a bit of explanation swiped from the page:

*zA, pronounced "zaw"
"Us-all", analogous in form to the second- and third-person *yA, *dA.
*kiad, pronounced "KKHEE-ud"
"Kid", obviously enough.
*w'-exùn, pronounced "weSHÖ(NG)"
Pronominal prefix ("we") and finite verb-stem; a twenty-fifth century slang term, origin unclear.
*ya, pronounced "yuh"
"You", singular.
*tijuh, pronounced "TEEZH-ögh"
From "teacher", now restricted to meaning specifically a language-instructor.
*da, pronounced "duh"
"That", as a subordinating conjunction.
*ya-gAr'-eduketan, pronounced "yagaw-RED-üket'n"
Pronominal prefix, auxiliary prefix (from "gotta") and nonfinite verb ("educate" - note the preserved form).
*wa-tAgan, pronounced "wuh-TSAWG'n"
"Talk"; pronominal prefix and nonfinite verb.
*lidla, pronounced "LEEDla"
A back-loan from Central Hindi, where English "legal" developed the specialised sense "linguistically well-formed".
The rest is at the link.

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The planet speaks

There's a Geo-message for you here.

Saturday, 6 September 2008


A drawing from a set on Flickr of illustrations by Lucy Pepper, a Brit blogger who lives in Portugal. Lucy has a gimlet eye, and her stuff is also hilarious.



This is my 1000th post to Grapes 2.0, which would have been reached months ago had I been more diligent, more thoughtful, more outward-looking.

I thought I'd mark it with something memorable, but not of my own, since I seem to be incapable these days of forming an idea in my idea that's strong enough to survive until I reach the keyboard, and it's right here in front of me most of the time.

I'm right now in a mood of melancholy Scottishness, which will be familiar to other exiles (change nationality as applicable). French calls it dépaysé, which means literally uncountried -- uprooted is precisely the idea in English. That comes upon you from time to time if you've left your people behind, and cosmopolite that I am, I still believe we all have a place and a people where we belong. It's exacerbated by doing things like watching clips of Eddi Reader on YouTube.

Then yesterday I got news that my old friend Alex Scott has died. He was an exile in Brussels when we were drinking buddies in about 1987 until he left in about 1990-91 to go to Barcelona, and add another layer of exile to his life. He married his Catalan woman, they adopted, they broke up, he stayed to have contact with their child. He went downhill, and drank and smoked himself into the grave.

The words of Robert Burns' poem Ae Fond Kiss are about a lover leaving forever. It's reputed to be addressed to Agnes McLehose, a married woman he knew as Nancy. They had an affair from December 1787 to January 1792, when she left to go to the West Indies, in the most cruel of ironies, to be reconciled with the husband from whom she had been estranged since before she even met Burns.

Burns, no stranger to producing adaptations of traditional verses he picked up in his travels, was clearly heavily influenced by the following poem, The Parting Kiss, by Robert Dodsley, publisher of Dr Johnson and of Thomas Gray. Dodsley died when Burns was only five.

The Parting Kiss

One kind wish before we part,
Drop a tear, and bid adieu:
Though we sever, my fond heart,
Till we meet, shall pant for you.

Yet, yet weep not so, my love,
Let me kiss that falling tear;
Though my body must remove,
All my soul will still be here.

All my soul and all my heart,
And every wish shall pant for you;
One kind kiss, then, ere we part,
Drop a tear, and bid adieu.

A similar sentiment to that of Burns, but nothing like the aching resignation that parting is forever. Here is Burns' version:

Ae Fond Kiss

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

Who shall say that Fortune grieves him,
While the star of hope she leaves him?
Me, nae cheerful twinkle lights me;
Dark despair around benights me.

I'll ne'er blame my partial fancy,
Naething could resist my Nancy:
But to see her was to love her;
Love but her, and love for ever.

Had we never lov'd sae kindly,
Had we never lov'd sae blindly,
Never met-or never parted,
We had ne'er been broken-hearted.

Fare-thee-weel, thou first and fairest!
Fare-thee-weel, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!

Ae fond kiss, and then we sever!
Ae fareweel, alas, for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears I'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.

And here is the great Eddi Reader, wringer of hearts, singing it:

Friday, 5 September 2008

EDDI READER - My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose

Word on the street is that Michael Jackson is working on the songs of Robert Burns at whatever hide-away he's living in. If anyone can think of anything less appealing than that idea, post it to rotten.com, because I don't want to hear about it. I think it's time for Michael to suffer some freak auto-asphyxiation accident, if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile here's Eddi Reader, doing it beautifully.

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Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Anything You Can Do

She's Mary Martin. Her son is Larry Hagman. He's John Raitt. His daughter is Bonnie Raitt, see above and all over this blog. I don't know what it signifies, if anything.

Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt - Dixie Chicken

Unbelievable. Little Feat, possibly the most underrated band ever, with Emmylou Harris and Bonnie Raitt on backing vocals. Lowell George is dead by this time, which I think is about 1977. They could have asked Bonnie to play slide, but that would have been way too radical for those times. Nowadays, 30 years later, she's probably considered one of the top players in the world.

Music like this, and this song among a few others, have the power to transport me all the way back to the time in question, like a tea-soaked madeleine. I love the way the Internet, and YouTube in particular, has brought it all around again. My generation is probably the first that will never lose anything it lived through, right down to the last detail, like sitcom theme-tunes. Our kids' lives are fully documented on film, video, and digital media. But long before them, the furniture of our lives is stocked, catalogued and stored on the Web, for all to consult.

Bonnie Raitt - Too Long at the Fair

This recording was made in 1976, when Bonnie was 28, and you can see she's at the top of her game here. despite being so young. In the 30 years since then, of course, she's only got better. It's worth bearing that in mind when considering whether "top of her game" means anything.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Large Hardon Collider

Look, that's the way my fingers type it (all those hours spent searching Google) so that's the way it's going to be.

Anyway, what I wanted to say was, we're all going to die, so best of luck, nice knowing you and all that.

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