Sir Terry Pratchett

I have been reading Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books from the time that the second one, The Light Fantastic, was released in paperback. They moved from being parodies of high fantasy, to hilarious sendups of real world topics set in a richly detailed fantasy world built up over the course of thirty seven Discworld books. Small Gods was satire on the gap between organized religion, Moving Pictures targeted Hollywood, and Soul Music was full of jokes about pop and rock.

Last year Terry Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He has donated $1m to research into the condition, which triggered an internet campaign by fans to raise a matching sum. He has become an advocate for better funding for dementia research. This is a horrible disease to strike someone who has given so much pleasure to so many through his writing.

It has just been announced that the Queen has awarded him a knighthood in the New Year’s Honour List, so he shall now be Sir Terry Pratchett; a richly deserved recognition of his literary contribution and his campaigning work for dementia sufferers and Orangutans.

Librarian

Published in: on 31 December, 2008 at 7:36  Comments (1)  

Don’t Try This at Home

If you got an iPhone for Christmas, you will no doubt find many uses for it. However, I do not recommend that you try and use it as shown in this video

Published in: on 27 December, 2008 at 16:26  Comments (2)  

Porn Stars and Sports Car

I was listening to my wife’s iPod Christmas playlist and was baffled by the inclusion of a song that referenced a Porn Star and a British Sports Car:

Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The (Triumph) Herald angels sing

Published in: on 26 December, 2008 at 21:56  Comments (1)  

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas has long been a generally observed holiday in the UK. Here in the US, it is a day of work, although with Christmas falling on a Friday a large number of people are taking it is a vaction. I am not one of those, although depending on the weather, I may take January 2nd and drive to the mountains and ski.

One advantage of having just a single day is that the bin men are collecting the waste and recyclables from Christmas, a day later than our usual Thursday pickup. When I was growing up in the UK, if Christmas Day, Boxing Day, or their  Bank Holiday replacements fell on  Monday we would not have a collection between the week before Christmas and well into the New Year. This was not an ideal time to not have rubbish collected.

Published in: on 26 December, 2008 at 7:02  Comments (1)  

Hot TV

We are at the house of friends and they the TV tuned to a channel that is playing carols and showing a burning log. This will be on for 36 hours without commercial breaks. The film of the fire is not a simulation, we have seen an arm and poker appear from off camera to turn the log and then a fresh one added. I wonder if the owner of the arm was excited by the prospect of a big break into TV on a show in Christmas prime time.

Published in: on 24 December, 2008 at 18:47  Comments (2)  

The number of eggs in Charlotte’s egg sac

The age of the Universe is about 13.7 billion years, modern humans came into existence about 130,000 years ago, it is 100 years since the Cubs last won the World Series. Compared to these spans of time, 514 days is a pretty small interval. However, it does seem rather a long time in advance to encourage paying a fee to extend my Flickr Pro Account. flickr

Published in: on 24 December, 2008 at 16:55  Leave a Comment  

Eggnog

It is less than week until Christmas and we have some guests coming round for dinner. Among the fare on offer will be the traditional American seasonal drink of eggnog. This is purchased from the diary department of any grocery store and consists of milk, cream, and beaten eggs. I have tried it once; it is not as disgusting as it sounds. It is often served with a substantial slug of brandy, or other hard liquor. I have only heard of this drink from US TV and movies and only seen it in stores here. It may have originated back in England, but it is now most definitely a US drink.

In fact, no one tried the eggnog; the drinking being focused on Grand Hawaiian Screws (Vodka, Grand Marnier, Pineapple, and Orange) , Gin and Tonic (Made with Hendrick’s Gin) and I drunk London Pride.

Published in: on 21 December, 2008 at 1:45  Comments (4)  

The Village Green

I was paging down through the 3000 odd songs that my iTunes stores, looking for an album to play. I had spent the weekend in mid eighties Prog Rock land with the first three Marillion albums. I wanted something different tonight and settled on “The Village Green Preservation Society”, an album, recorded at the height of sixties reaction against society, which as the title suggests sings the praises of the joys of English life:

We are the Village Green Preservation Society
God save Donald Duck, Vaudeville and Variety
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society
God save Mrs. Mopp and good Old Mother Riley
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium
God save the George Cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular
Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliate
God save Tudor houses, antique tables and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the Village Green.

From another track on the album:

Out in the country,
Far from all the soot and noise of the city,
Theres a village green.
Its been a long time
Since I last set eyes on the church with the steeple
Down by the village green.
Twas there I met a girl called daisy
And kissed her by the old oak tree.
Although I loved my daisy, I saw fame,
And so I left the village green.

I miss the village green,
And all the simple people.
I miss the village green,
The church, the clock, the steeple.
I miss the morning dew, fresh air and Sunday school.

And now all the houses
Are rare antiquities.
American tourists flock to see the village green.
They snap their photographs and say gawd darn it,
Isn’t it a pretty scene?
And Daisy’s married tom the grocer boy,
And now he owns a grocery.

I miss the village green,
And all the simple people.
I miss the village green,
The church, the clock, the steeple.
I miss the morning dew, fresh air and Sunday school.

And I will return there,
And Ill and daisy,
And well sip tea, laugh,
And talk about the village green.
We will laugh and talk about the village green.

The Kinks are the greatest chroniclers of Englishness that the world of Pop music has ever had; horribly under appreciated by the world at large, but brilliant in their own idiosyncratic way – which seems a fitting metaphor for being English.

Published in: on 15 December, 2008 at 19:13  Leave a Comment  

Crush the Scots

I posted yesterday about the oddity of a using a song written to poke fun at Americans being used as a patriotic anthem. It would be remiss of me were I not to point out that the British Anthem, “God Save the Queen”, has a verse calling for the crushing of the Scots, who are part of the United Kingdom.

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen!

This is as if “The Star Spangled Banner” ended thus:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer Vermont, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Granted, I do not think anyone sings that final verse. In fact truth to be told most Brits only know the words to the first verse,which is a shame as I love the implication that all of Britain’s foes are knavish scoundrels.

Published in: on 14 December, 2008 at 11:00  Comments (2)  

Yankee Doodle

If someone composed an insulting ditty about me, I doubt that I would want to sing it; actually with my lack of pitch no one would want me to sing it or any other song for that matter. Here in the US, however, that is not the case. Even before the US rebellion against the Crown British troops sang a song that mocked the rough and ready colonists. The song is Yankee Doodle, sung with pride by modern day Americans, and the state anthem of Connecticut:
Yankee Doodle went to town
Upon a little pony
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it Macaroni

For those who wonder about the apparent pasta reference; Macaroni was a name given to English gentlemen who were foppish and over concerned with dressing smartly. The implication is that the ignorant colonist thought that putting a feather in his cap was enough to make him a smartly attired  gentleman.

Published in: on 13 December, 2008 at 10:51  Leave a Comment