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Balkan mushroom wisdom

Sunday, 28 August, 2016 0 Comments

“All mushrooms are edible, but some only once.” — Balkan proverb

mushrooms


Siri says Jon Snow is…

Wednesday, 13 April, 2016 1 Comment

HBO made millions of people happy recently when it announced that Game of Thrones Season 6 (The Winds of Winter) will premiere on 24 April. The talk now is that the show will need at least seven, if not eight seasons to complete the “journey,” to use our jargon Word of the Day. GOT could run for another five years, in other words.

Because the presence of the charismatic character Jon Snow is uncertain in The Winds of Winter, Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant, has been pressed into service and lots of news sites are hawking stories about what happens when you ask Siri if Jon Snow is dead. No spoilers here, however. Our question was oblique.

Siri


Video of the Year

Friday, 18 December, 2015 1 Comment

The next Rainy Day award — Video of the Year — goes to Lara Marie Schoenhals for “Please welcome to the stage…” Background: Taylor Swift made headlines by inviting celebrity women onstage as part of her 1989 World Tour. The guest list included Julia Roberts, Joan Baez, Gigi Hadid and Lena Dunham. “Please welcome to the stage the first woman ever, Eve from Adam and Eve,” declares Schoenhals mocking Swift’s routine, and then she hits her stride with “the fabulous 51 victims of Bill Cosby,” as well as the “women survivors of ISIS” and the “ashes of the victims of the Salem witch trials.” The list of notorieties includes Tonya Harding, Angelina Jolie and Hillary Clinton.

In a searing essay in the Hollywood Reporter, Camille Paglia took a swipe at “Taylor Swift, Hollywood’s #GirlSquad Culture.” Money quote: “Swift herself should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props, an exhibitionistic overkill that Lara Marie Schoenhals brilliantly parodied in her scathing viral video ‘Please Welcome to the Stage.'” So, “Please Welcome to the Stage…”

Tomorrow, here, the Rainy Day Book of the Year award.


Kardashian Gatsby Kanye Warhol

Monday, 9 November, 2015 0 Comments

People: “Daughters Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian were the bee’s knees in their throwback costumes, with the Victoria’s Secret catwalker channeling Daisy Buchanan and the single mother of three looking dapper as Jay Gatsby.”

For those who do not read People Magazine, Kristen Mary “Kris” Jenner, who has just celebrated her 60th birthday, is an American television personality who is famous for starring in the reality television series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Among the 250 guests at her Gatsby-themed party were John Legend, Boy George, Melanie Griffith and Kanye West. Contemporary Gatsby fans will be aware, no doubt, that No Church in the Wild, a song by Kanye West, featured in the 2013 film adaptation of The Great Gatsby by Australian director Baz Luhrmann.

Which brings us back to the Kardashians. Who are they? “Andy Warhol would have been transfixed by them,” wrote Lauren La Vine. “They’ve managed to not only run down the clock on his assertion that, ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,’ — but also hurl that clock out the window and smash it to pieces.” Perhaps it was fitting, then, that Kendall Jenner decided to “channel” Daisy Buchanan at her mother’s party. What was it that F. Scott Fitzgerald said of the Buchanans?

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” The Great Gatsby

The new Gatsbys


John Steed exits

Friday, 26 June, 2015 1 Comment

“Daniel Patrick Macnee died a natural death at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93, with his family at his bedside, according to his son, Rupert.” So reads the statement on the actor’s website. Despite his many roles, Patrick Macnee was most famously John Steed in the 1960s’ British TV series, The Avengers. Paired with Diana Rigg (Mrs Peel), he was the elegant complement to her beautiful Holmes-like character and the couple were the embodiment of grace, charm and wit. Viewers wanted to dress like that, drive those cars and have machines that recorded phone messages.

As Macnee’s website puts it: “….The Avengers became known for its progressive approach to feminism, the female stars being more than a match for Steed… and a plethora of ‘diabolical master minds.’ The programme was also known for its creative team’s interest in stories about cutting-edge technology.”

For Patrick Macnee, who played many parts but will be remembered for one, here’s the introduction to the famous monologue from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Act II Scene VII:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts


The fish story at 40

Tuesday, 23 June, 2015 0 Comments

The film didn’t have a website, a Twitter feed, a Facebook page or trailers on YouTube. What it did have was a budget of $7 million and Steven Spielberg as its director. Since its premiere in June 1975, Jaws has earned $470 million and, for better or worse, it established the summer blockbuster trend. This was Spielberg’s second feature film and it could have ended the 27-year-old’s career, but his clever use of fear (we’re vulnerable when we leave dry land) and terror (we’re more scared of what we can’t see than what we can) thrilled people into queuing around the block all summer long 40 years ago.

Spielberg was aided by Peter Benchley, who wrote the novel, John Williams, who scored the anxiety-inducing music, and, especially, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfus, who played their roles to perfection.

Jaws


D’oh

Wednesday, 17 December, 2014 0 Comments

The Simpsons are not politically correct, but they are human. Created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company, the dysfunctional cartoon family have appeared in 561 episodes since the show had its debut on 17 December 1989, and the 26th season began in September this year. But the Simpsons is not simply a TV series; it’s a language says Chris Turner, author of Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. As to the precise nature of the language the Simpsons speak, linguist Mark Liberman called it Homeric.

Best episode? Take your pick. Ours is “Homer’s Enemy”, the 23rd episode of the eighth season. During a “Design your nuclear power-plant” contest for children, Frank Grimes alters the competition poster in hopes of embarrassing Homer, but Homer wins the contest in typically surreal fashion. Filled with rage, Grimes goes mad and, well, no spoilers here. The subversive message of the story is that sloppy sloth is OK. The punctual, efficient, ambitious Grimes is a bore. Homer, by contrast, is happy. D’oh.


Nowness

Thursday, 23 October, 2014 0 Comments

Nowness defines itself as “a video channel showcasing contemporary culture through film. Every day we premiere a new video that gets under the skin of the most influential names across art & design, fashion & beauty, music, culture and food & travel.” Here, Alessandro Gualtieri, the Italian perfumer, is in pursuit of the perfect scent in Paul Rigter’s documentary, The Nose: Searching for Blamage. The “Blamage” involved, by the way, is the 10th perfume in his Nasomatto (Crazy Nose) line.





Entering the fireworks

Thursday, 25 September, 2014 0 Comments

Fireworks


The Rotherham horror

Thursday, 28 August, 2014 1 Comment

Back in 2010, Julie Bindel was on the case. But people didn’t want to hear. Snippet:

“Often giving the girl a mobile telephone as a ‘gift’, the pimp is then able to track her every move by calls and texting, which eventually will be used by him to send instructions as to details of arrangements with punters. The men sell the girls on to contacts for around £200 a time or as currency for a business deal. ‘I was always asked why I kept going back to my pimp,’ says Sophie, ‘but they flatter you and make you think you are really loved. I thought he was my boyfriend until it was too late to get away.’ Another tactic of the pimp is getting the girl to despise and mistrust her own parents in order that he can achieve total control over her. The pimps routinely tell their victims that their parents are racist towards Asian people and that they disapprove of the relationships because the men are of Pakistani Muslim heritage, not because they are older. Some of the parents I met were racist, and some had developed almost a phobia against Asian men, fuelled by the misinformation and bigotry trotted out by racist groups in response to the pimping gangs.”


As they had lived well, they died well too

Monday, 25 August, 2014 0 Comments

Basque fairy tales have a tendency to end with the formula “As they had lived well, they died well too.” Take the example of Beauty and the Beast. In this version, the beast is reptilian:

“There appears then an enormous serpent. Without intending it, the young lady could not help giving a little shudder. An instant after the serpent went away; and the young lady lived very happily, without lacking anything.”