Thursday, August 30, 2007


This is Super Scrabble. Its main advantage over Scrabble is that games take a whole lot longer to play. I sound slightly bitter because I lost. Comprehensively. But I did get to put down an ocelot. Which segues neatly into the following ocelot-related anthology.

If I could be any one of the things
In the world that bites
Instead of an endangered ocelot on a leash
I'd rather be your kite
(Lou Reed's inventive interpretation of scansion in 'Andy's Chest')

I'll be the first ever Asian astronaut
Blasting off, casting off
The ties that bind like a smashed guitar
Rode a mastodon out of Jurassic Park
Chased by a fan in a Tyrannosaur mask
Travel the traffic cop past the spot
Where the ostrich got across for the ocelot
(Blackalicious's inventive interpretation of sense in 'Do This My Way')

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Current Favourite Exchange

Scene: The Gypsy Encampment


DIEGO: Where are the Gypsies?

Middleton and Rowley, The Spanish Gipsie (1623)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I'm reading Italo Calvino's collection of Italian folktales at the moment. They're great, especially the beginnings - in the middle they tend to conform all-too-neatly to folktale morphology. You know the drill: three keys made of crystal, silver and gold, a standard 2:1 ugly to virtuous sister ratio. And they don't call it a fairytale ending for nothing. But they all start off like gangbusters. The translation is by George Martin.

'A boy had taken it into his head to go out and steal. He also told his mother.
"Aren't you ashamed!" said his mother. "Go to confession at once, and you'll see what the priest has to say to you."
The boy went to confession. "Stealing is a sin," said the priest, "unless you steal from thieves."
The boy went to the wood and found thieves. He knocked at their door and got himself hired as a servant.
"We steal," explained the thieves, "but we're not committing a sin, because we rob the tax collectors."
One night when the thieves had gone out to rob a tax collector, the boy led the best mule out of the stable, loaded it with gold pieces, and fled.'
The Three Castles (Monferrato)

'There were twelve brothers who fell out with their father, and all twelve of them left home. They built themselves a house in the woods and made their living as carpenters. Meanwhile their parents had a baby girl, who was a great comfort to them. The child grew up without ever meeting her twelve brothers. She had only heard them mentioned, and she longed to see them.
One day she went to bathe at a fountain, and the first thing she did was remove her coral necklace and hang it on a twig. A raven came by, grabbed the necklace, and flew off with it. The girl ran into the woods after the raven and found her brothers' house. No one was at home, so she cooked the noodles, spooned them onto the brothers' plates, and hid under a bed.'
The Twelve Oxen (Monferrato)

'Once there was a king who, for a son, had a pig named King Crin. King Crin would saunter through the royal chambers and usually behave beautifully, as befits anybody of royal birth. Sometimes, though, he was cross. On one such occasion, his father asked, while stroking his back, "What is the matter? Why are you so cross?"
"Oink, oink," grunted King Crin. "I want a wife. Oink, oink, I want the baker's daughter!"
The king sent for the baker, who had three daughters, and asked if his oldest daughter was willing to marry his pig-son. Torn between the thrill of marrying the king's son and the horror of marrying a pig, the daughter made up her mind to accept the proposal.'
King Crin (Colline del Po)

'There was once a young man who spent his days in caf├ęs challenging people to a game of billiards.'
The Billiards Player (Milan)

'One day a young man said, "This tale about everybody having to die doesn't set too well with me. I will go in search of the land where one never dies."'
The Land Where One Never Dies (Verona)

'Once there was a man devoted exclusively to St. Joseph. He addressed all his prayers to St. Joseph, lit candles to St. Joseph, gave alms in the name of St. Joseph; in short, he recognised no one but St. Joseph. His dying day came, and he went before St. Peter.'
The Devotee of St. Joseph (Verona)

'There was once a mother and father with two little boys and a girl. The father was often away from home travelling and one day when he was away the two little boys said to their mother, "We are going to meet Papa!" Their mother replied, "Yes, yes, go ahead."
When they reached the woods the children stopped to play. Shortly afterward, they saw their father approaching and ran up and grabbed him around the legs, saying, "Papa! Papa!"
The father was in a bad humour that day and replied, "Don't bother me! Go away!" But the boys paid no attention and went on pulling on his legs.
Thoroughly irritated, the father yelled, "The Devil take you both!" In that moment the Devil came out and took them away before the father knew what had happened to them.'
Silent for Seven Years (Venice)

'A woman was expecting a baby and craved parsley. Next door to her lived a famous witch who had a whole garden of parsley. The garden gate was always open, since the parsley was so abundant, and all who wished could go in and help themselves. The woman with a craving for parsley went in, fell to, and didn't stop until she'd eaten half the garden.'
The Cloven Youth (Venice)

'A king issued a proclamation that whoever succeeded in giving his daughter her fill of figs would have her as his wife.'
The King's Daughter Who Could Never Get Enough Figs (Romagna)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Current Favourite Sentence

At the Institute they are singing On Human
Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes
of Individuation.

Yes, I know the last favourite sentence was only yesterday. What can I say? I'm fickle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Current Favourite Sentence

'Your Majesty had best remain out of sight,' remonstrated the Dean, but the King said, havers, this was the daftest ploy he'd been engaged in since he was a sackless callant, and naething would gar him miss any o' the whim-whams.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Here is some top-quality sumo action for you to watch. This is about as exciting as it gets: the controversial Asashoryu in action.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


This was what I saw, or rather didn't see, when I got out of bed this morning and then (who wouldn't?) groped my way down to the beach.