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21 June 2006

Another good man gone

George Tofte was a very dear friend, a fellow spiritual traveller, a fellow Scorpio, a fellow curmudgeon who had fought and won the battle against rage, even in a small way a soul-mate, as were (or are) all the members of our little group of spiritual seekers from my days in Minneapolis. (The Initiates. The name is ironic. There is no initiation.) George died Sunday morning and we are going to miss him a lot.
My favourite George T. quote: "Conservativism used to be a philosophy. Nowadays, it's a form of psychopathology."

How can a poor man stand such times and live?

You can listen to this while you read this post.
It all started innocently enough. I have a little blogette in the community project called Kitchen Gardeners International. I saw a nice two-page spread in the Independent this morning on seed saving, so I thought I would post about that in KGI. Unlike this blog, or at least, unlike this blog used to be, KGI is meant to be a rant-free zone. But in the course of looking for extra links on seed saving, I uncovered an atrocity. That is to say, it would be an atrocity if it were being enforced, but given the state of things in Iraq, I somehow doubt that it is. After all, what do religious fanatics and neighbourhood warlords care about either seed heritage or Monsanto's profits?

19 June 2006


'Wordplay' is a hot new documentary about what most would consider a terribly uncool subject: crosswords. The work focuses on a man whose name is not so well-known to UK crossword fans, who feel utterly superior to American cruciverbailists but maybe should not; Will Shortz, the long-time crossword editor of the New York Times, deserves respect on both sides of the Atlantic.
Much of the superiority complex of the British solvers and setters is due to the fact that the quintissential British crossword is the cryptic, with "concise", "quick" or "easy" crosswords appearing in the more lowbrow publications and cheap puzzle magazines. In America, on the other hand, a very challenging "straight definition" style, with more closely packed crosses and very arcane words, is the standard fare of intellectuals, while cryptics can be found but are considered an eccentric variation. (Except for readers of the Nation magazine, which has featured a very excellent American-style cryptic since the 1800's.)

11 June 2006

On the suicide of Vince Welnick and depression in general

Nobody does elegaic quite as well as John Perry Barlow. On his blog Barlowfrienz, he gets by turns poetic, mournful, funny and piercing. Welnick's recent death, "the curse of the keyboardist", is linked up with Jerry Garcia's death and the spiritual malaise in its wake, with the deaths of earlier GD keyboard players and with that of one of Barlow's non-GD friends, the actor Spalding Grey. There is also a beautiful lyric that Welnick wrote, which Barlow cannot recall the melody of, and an excerpt from his writing on depression (Barlow's) which is one of the most insightful and compassionate things ever said on the subject.

09 June 2006

What if . . . Sandi Thom is the anti-Christ?

Oh, good. So it's not just me, then.
No, but seriously, I was feeling like such a curmudgeon, because now that I am riding to and from work with a much younger man, instead of taking the train, I hear a lot of radio - not commercial, thank grid, but BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2. And most of the "new" music I hear strikes me as being pure crap, whereas new music I get on my own, rather than having it spoon-fed by a m.o.r. "content provider", is really good. But "I Wish I Was a Punk-rocker" is in its own little class of awfulness. AND it's a fecking earworm. It's going through my head right now. It's enough to drive you to taking drugs that adversely affect short-term memory.

03 June 2006

Great British Menu

DH and I have been watching Great British Menu on the BBC for its long, long 8-week stretch. Although we didn't "vote" on the menu, we were quite interested in the results, which are, if you're interested:

Starter Smoked salmon with blinis, woodland sorrel and wild cress: Richard Corrigan (Northern Ireland)
Fish course Pan-fried turbot with cockles and oxtail: Bryn Williams (Wales)
Main course Loin of roe venison with potato cake, roast roots, creamed cabbage and game gravy: Nick Nairn (Scotland)
Dessert Custard tart with nutmeg: Marcus Wareing (north of England)

I was also interested to find out. via online discussion groups here and here, that the GBP (great British public) tended to agree with our criticisms of the show, most of which apply to all of the reality programming on TV, even the supposedly high-brow stuff on the BBC - it is insulting in its gimmicky, short-attention-span repetitive nature.

02 June 2006

Funny little facts

Three of the top female British authors' names form the pattern AX, BY and XY : Zadie Smith, Monica Ali and Ali Smith.

A word of the day that came up this week forms a Highly Improbable Anagram with another little-known word that I just happened to know. The two words are : neoplasm and pleonasm.

Shelby Foote, Walker Percy and William Faulkner all hailed at various times from the same little Mississippi town - Greeneville.

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