Wednesday, 29 November 2006

captain's log supplemental

Further to the previous post re top 50 sf and fantasy books:

- I don't know how the list was come up with. Sometimes dodgy lists have titles which all turn out to be published/distributed/sold by the list-presenter, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. It seems a well-rounded list, which suggests it's not a 'readers votes' list (no ballot-stuffing by Discworld- and Potter-lovers), although the high placing of Mists of Avalon (and Sword of Shannara's presence) is a bit perplexing.

- I notice that titles 11-50 are in alphabetical order of title, so I guess the first ten are the 'top ten' and these are 'the rest'.

- Like Alex, there are some books on the list I'm just not sure if I've read or not. Alex recommends I Am Legend in particular, which I've read good things about before and must seek out.

- The only book on the list I started but couldn't get anywhere with was big fat Dune. Wizard of Earthsea is the only book on the list I haven't read but own.

- I note it isn't a 'best' list but 'most significant', which is quite a different thing. A book can be significant and important but not very good, like Frankenstein, say. Or Duchamp's fountain, which is significant and important in the history of art, but is rubbish - indeed, not even art (therein lying the importance of it being accepted as art).

- A lot of the best science fiction is short stories, I think, so won't appear on these kinds of lists (apart from Dangerous Visions). Robert Sheckley's novels were ordinary compared to his splendid short stories - probably my favourite science fiction writer, if push came to shove.

Dear me, just another list for me to keep and try to work my way through.

Tuesday, 28 November 2006

top 50 sf and fantasy books

The Science Fiction Book Club's The Most Significant SF & Fantasy Books of the Last 50 Years, 1953-2002, in order:

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Dune, Frank Herbert
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Childhood's End, Arthur C. Clarke
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.
The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
Cities in Flight, James Blish
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
Little, Big, John Crowley
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke
Ringworld, Larry Niven
Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
Timescape, Gregory Benford
To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer

- I think I've only read fourteen of them; shocking.

sharpe by name

Another quote from a recent Fiver:
Lee Sharpe has failed to live up to his surname by getting a pub quiz question about himself wrong. When asked to name the youngest player to represent England U21s before Theo Walcott, he scribbled down 'Michael Owen'. The answer? 'Lee Sharpe'.

ken macleod

Iain Banks, in his whisky and car book, gave a couple of mentions to his old friend (school friend, I think) Ken Macleod; one of the things he mentioned was that whereas Iain had ground away at several novels before getting a publishable one, Ken got it right first time; another was that Ken's parents were Free Presbyterians.

I'd seen Ken MacLeod's books before, and I think I came across his weblog first when I was searching for the origin of the phrase 'work as if you are living in the early days of a better nation' - he's clearly an old lefty.

Last night I was watching the second part of a documentary on British science fiction, The Martians And Us. Ken MacLeod was one of the talking heads, and when I heard him speak I thought he must have done some growing up in Lewis. Sure enough, a websearch revealed he was born in Stornoway and lived in Lewis until he was ten. Two links came up to entries in his blog - here and here.

I'll have to read something of his.

world cup podcasts; the pundit queen

I've been listening to David Baddiel and Frank Skinner's world cup podcasts, only four or five months late - it's all come flooding back. (The Word magazine podcast is the only other genuine podcast I listen to; I also do Mark Kermode's film reviews and The Now Show.) They're amusing and with good analysis. Speaking of good analysis, here's the quote of the day from last Thursday's Guardian football email, The Fiver:

"Football's a difficult business and aren't they prima donnas?" - Her Majesty the Queen offers her surprisingly erudite opinion on the state of English football to Premier League chairman Sir David Richards.

Saturday, 25 November 2006

jesus is not a republican

Jesus is not a Republican - an interesting article by an American evangelical academic who is not right-wing.

tapioca time bomb

A freighter carrying tapioca nearly sank when a fire in its hold (and the water used to extinguish it) cooked the cargo.

- Snopes is a very good site for sorting out internet myth from fact, but this is a story which turns out to be true.

Friday, 24 November 2006

quixotry

Have you heard about the new world record score in Scrabble? Michael Cresta scored 830 points during a game at the
Lexington Scrabble Club in Massachusetts on 12 October 2006. His words included "quixotry", which itself claims a record as the highest recorded single turn, scoring 365 points. "Quixotry": the state or condition of being extremely idealistic, unrealistic and impractical.

- World Wide Words newsletter, 4 November 2006.

what were they thinking?

What were they thinking? Really, it's just hard to conceive how no one thought that publishing a book (with associated tv programme) by OJ Simpson called If I Did It, describing how he would have killed his ex-wife and her friend, if he had done it (which obviously helps to demonstrate that he couldn't possibly have done it, since the way it happened isn't how he'd have done it), might not be a good idea.

Which puts me in mind a little of the exchange between policemen in the film Jagged Edge, where one says the killing of the wife is so brutal that her husband couldn't have done it and the other says that because it looks that way, that's the way he'd kill his wife if he was going to.

Monday, 20 November 2006

langford's skrapbook

Some extracts from a miscellany, called skrapbook, compiled by Dave Langford for the UK magazine The Skeptic, first published in The Skeptic vol 18 no 3, Autumn 2005:

• Terry Pratchett reminisces about strange encounters in the days before he reached best-selling fame:
"I remember, as a journalist, patiently investigating the claims of some apparently perfectly normal people who had, once you worked out the details of the glowing hemisphere that they had seen, watched the sun set."
(In correspondence, 1991)

• Diana Wynne Jones, a leading children's fantasy author whom genre insiders rate much higher than J.K. Rowling, sings the praises of Alternative Medicine:
"I don't think I've ever been so ill so long and so bizarrely. I mean, I know ridiculous things are always happening to me, but who else in your acquaintance gets themselves poisoned by a homeopath? My agent kept ringing me up and protesting, 'But they mix it with water so many times that they don't give you enough to poison you!' Yes, they did. Did you know that in the back-to-front world of homeopathy, the more times you dilute a given poison, the more potent it is said to be? The one I went to kept bleating that she knew I was likely to react strongly, so she only gave me a very low potency -- in other words, she gave me quite a hefty dose of some obscure poison, and my body, being unacquainted with Looking Glass World medicine, promptly went on the blink for three months. I feel quite sorry for it."
(In correspondence, 1991)
-- Which reminds me that after an uncritical BBC programme on homeopathy in the 1980s, the SF author Bob Shaw (sadly no longer with us) sent a wide-eyed letter to the Radio Times asking whether, by the theory of Dilution Is Strength, you should give children twice as many pills as you would take yourself. He was severely dealt with in the letter column. Any dilution or addition made by a layman, it seems, would not be a true homeopathic process and would not count; and the kids should get a half pill just as in real life. The logic of all this is elusive.

• Again in the world of science fiction, I've been hearing about the Seattle-based rock band Blöödhag which promotes books, and whose lyrics are all about SF authors. For example, this haunting couplet from the song "Alfred Bester":
When Campbell fell under L.Ron's spell
Alfred said, "[something awful]."
Of course Bester, an author with a living to earn, said nothing of the sort when John W. Campbell -- the incredibly influential editor of Astounding SF magazine -- fell for Dianetics in the 1950s and started babbling things like "It was discovered by L. Ron Hubbard, and he will win the Nobel Peace Prize for it." Bester describes the embarrassing lunch with Campbell that followed:
"Suddenly he stood up and towered over me. 'You can drive your memory back to the womb,' he said. 'You can do it if you release every block, clear yourself and remember. Try it.'
"'Now?'
"'Now. Think. Think back. Clear yourself. Remember? You can remember when your mother tried to abort you with a buttonhook. You've never stopped hating her for it.'
"Around me there were cries of 'BLT down, hold the mayo. Eighty-six on the English. Combo rye, relish. Coffee shake, pick up.' And here was this grim tackle standing over me, practising dianetics without a license. The scene was so lunatic that I began to tremble with suppressed laughter. I prayed, 'Help me out of this, please. Don't let me laugh in his face. Show me a way out.' God showed me. I looked up at Campbell and said, 'You're absolutely right, Mr. Campbell, but the emotional wounds are too much to bear. I can't go on with this.'
"He was completely satisfied. 'Yes, I could see you were shaking.' ..."
(Alfred Bester, "My Affair with Science Fiction", 1975)

elizabeth taylor and montgomery clift

Trouper of the week: She has faced viral pneumonia, a brain tumour and incurable heart disease, but this week Liz Taylor proved that you can't keep a good hoofer down - abandoning her wheelchair, at the age of 74, to swim with the sharks off Hawaii. This unassailable gumption will not surprise long-term Liz-watchers, who know her for more than just her murky friendship with Michael Jackson and her eight short marriages. In 1956, for example, on leaving a dinner party at Taylor's home, her good friend Montgomery Clift slammed his car into a phone pole, breaking every bone in his face (among many life-threatening injuries). While the other guests phoned for an ambulance, Taylor ran to the scene, crawling through the back door of the crushed car and over the seats to reach him. Cradling Clift's head in her arms, she noticed him moaning and motioning to his throat, where parts of his broken jaw had lodged. Taylor promptly reached deep into his mouth and pulled them out, thus saving his life. With guts like those, sharks probably don't seem very frightening at all.
- Guardian, Friday 22 September, 2006.

king james bible: the public response

The book crept out into the public arena. Being only a revision of earlier translations, and not a new work, there was no need for it to be entered in the Stationers’ Register, which recorded only new publications and so, in addition to this most famous book having no agreed text, it also has no publication date. ...
Everything that could have been done for it had been done. Something approaching three hundred and fifty scholar years had been devoted to its excellence; the Crown and state church had given it their imprimatur; a laudatory preface and dedication, by permission, to the king, had been included. Any publisher would have hoped for the most enormous success.
They didn’t get it. Some critics thought its dependence on a kind of English which seemed sixty or seventy years out of date (although its English was in fact a form no one had ever spoken) made it ridiculous and bogus. Hugh Broughton, a cantankerous and aggressive Puritan Hebrew scholar, who had wanted to be part of the great committee, sending papers and suggestions to Bancroft, but barred because of his incivility, lambasted the translation for its errors and its slavish following of the old Bishops’ Bible. In the opening words of his Preface, Miles Smith had predicted such a reaction. ‘Zeale to promote the common good’, he had begun - and there is no phrase which encapsulates more precisely the ideals of the project - ‘findeth but cold intertainment in the world.’ Broughton castigated the Translators. Their understanding of Hebrew was inadequate; where they had stumbled on something worthwhile, they had usually relegated it to the margins. These worldly divines, he said, were interested only in promotion in the church and crawling to royal authority. Blasphemy, most damnable corruptions, intolerable deceit and vile imposture were terms scarcely bad enough to describe the depths of their degeneracy. ‘The late Bible’, he wrote, ‘was sent to me to censure: which bred in me a sadness that will grieve me while I breathe, it is ill done. Tell His Majesty that I had rather be rent in pieces with wild horses, than any such translation by my consent should be urged upon poor churches . . . the new edition crosseth me. I require it to be burnt.’ ... The Geneva Bible continued to hold its position in English affections, at least partly because it was so useful for its notes and appendices, a guidebook to the world of the divine. It continued to flood off the presses ... Then, in 1616, the king put a halt to it, or at least attempted to: no more editions of the Geneva Bible were to be printed. The King James Bible ... was to become, by order, the only English Bible. [But Dutch editions were produced for the English market well into the 1630s] The King James Bible languished on the side, a royal project, whose language it seemed was not the language of the people.
- p227-228, Adam Nicolson, Power and Glory

Tuesday, 14 November 2006

freckleton air disaster

This from a set of interviews in Saturday's Guardian's magazine with Archibald McIndoe's guinea pigs - so incidental really, but a story about a tragedy I'd never heard of before:

I was stationed at Kirkham in Lancashire when the accident happened. It was August 23 1944, and I was off duty with three mates when a terrible storm blew up. We got caught right in the middle, so we made a run for it to our local cafe, The Sad Sack Snack Bar. Meantime, an American B-24 Liberator bomber had taken off on a test flight when it hit the storm and came down . It crashed through the snack bar and continued on, through the infants' wing of the local school before coming to a halt. Sixty one people, including 38 children, were killed. It was the worst air incident of the war. Ironically, at that time the rest of the country was celebrating - Paris had been liberated and victory was finally in sight.

This page on the Imperial War Museum gives some more details, and the location.

And this page gives a great deal of information.

billy bragg on multiculturalism

But after the interminable debate this summer about George Cross flags during the World Cup, many themes and references Bragg rehearses feel fairly well-trodden. Towards the end he does focus on one - multiculturalism - for long enough to propose what might be an interesting argument. Class, he says, is a social distinction which still exists but no longer acts as a barrier to achievement: "So perhaps we should think of a multicultural society in the same way as we perceive our present classless society, as an evolutionary process which does not necessitate the abolition of cultural differences or the assimilation of one group into another. The multicultural society would be one in which ethnicity, like class, no longer matters."

- from a not very favourable review of Billy Bragg's book, The Progressive Patriot, by Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian, Saturday 11 November.

the rough congregation

Looking at the site of a church near Crowborough, East Sussex, Forest Fold Baptist Chapel (in Ashdown Forest), this on its history page made me laugh:

So rough looking were the original worshippers [in the 1830s] that when a Mr Sedgwick came from Brighton one Sunday to preach he commented afterwards, “Well, Doggett, I never preached to such a congregation as that before. I did not know how the time went, as I was afraid to let them see I had a watch”.

Monday, 13 November 2006

lord mayor's show and fireworks

We went to the Lord Mayor's Show on Saturday - my and M's first time, Bethan's second. My childhood memory of the Lord Mayor's Show is of Saturday morning children's programmes being cut short to show it - I resented it, and had no interest in watching it. I don't have much more interest in watching it now; but we thought M'd like it, and she did. We had our congregation's traditional vantage point on the elevated area next to St Nicholas Cole Abbey on Queen Victoria Street - I checked on Thursday night that the space was still accessible through the back gate.

It was cold, and longer than I'd anticipated. It was quite a range of floats and bands. The most peculiar was a prostate cancer charity float, carrying a steel drum band playing Total Eclipse of the Heart, accompanied by smiling waving women, presumably secure in the knowledge that they'd never have to call on the charity's services.

We went back out to the fireworks at 5pm, watching them as last year from Southwark Bridge, which is a bit further away (the fireworks barge is between Blackfriars and Waterloo) so a bit quieter, fewer people and still a good view.

Oddly enough, we saw the dreadlocked Victor Lewis-Smith twice, in two separate places - walking below us at Cole Abbey, and passing us on a south London back street after the fireworks.

‘imagine is not about peace but oblivion’

Fan of the Beatles and solo Beatles as I am, I thought this item in the January 2006 issue of Word magazine by Andrew Harrison about Imagine (headed The Worst Song Ever, in a feature on The Worst Of Everything) hit the nail on the head in many ways:

---

Imagine is so routinely and unthinkingly acclaimed that it’s become one of rock’s sacred artefacts. Official anthem of Amnesty International. Top of C4’s 1000 Best Singles. Rolling Stone’s third-best single of all time. Sign-off at the end of every other Lennon-related fansite and source of the title for George Galloway’s auto-hagiography I’m Not The Only One. It is taken as read that this three-minute four-second song, released on October 24 1975 from the album of the same name and going to number one shortly afterwards, is the very pinnacle of what music can aspire to. It’s not so much a song as a hymn. Dislike it and you dislike rock and roll itself. You should probably go and stand in the corner with Britney Spears, Hitler, Simon Cowell and all the other agents of bummerdom.

I’ve always detested Imagine and, I think, with good reason. Has anyone listened to it lately? I mean *listened*, not genuflected before it. The irony of wealthy rock stars whingeing about the invidiousness of private property has been noted before but Imagine takes it to a whole new water-brained level. Lennon invites us to imagine absolute nothingness - not just an absence of heaven, hell, nations or belief, but no future or past either. It’s a manifesto for self-erasure from a man who’s bored of the world and everything in it, bar Yoko. I hear that rumbling sententious piano, see that white room in my mind’s eye (song and video are indivisible - and anyway, what kind of robot would want to live *there*?) and I can only think of Lennon’s heroin years. Imagine is not about peace but oblivion.

And its idealism is really a sneering contempt for anyone with convictions, or a reasonable desire of betterment in the material world, dolled up in groovy Apple Corps threads. Lennon just can’t stop his self-righteousness from peeking through (‘Imagine no possessions/*I wonder if you can*’). The song reaches its fatuous zenith in the final verse, where plain-speaking John employs the skills of the expert propagandist-rhetorician. ‘You may say I’m a dreamer’ (honest disagreement rubbished as cynicism) ‘but I’m not the only one’ (dissenters cast as an irrelevant minority) ‘I hope some day you’ll join us’ (offer salvation) ‘And the world will live as one’ (if you disagree, the world’s continuing woes are *your* fault). It’s creepy and culty and self-satisfied; a recipe for emptying your mind and filling it with Lennon’s hippy totalitarianism. I don’t just hate it. I fundamentally, violently disagree with it. And I hoestly believe it’s the worst song ever written.

You may say that I’m a dreamer - and maybe I am the only one. But let me refer you to a friend who has a terrible fear of flying. The least reassuring thing she could imagine when flying out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport into the teeth (she thought) of certain death was its new motto: ‘Above us only sky’.

---

- On solo Lennon in general, I often think also that people who think Paul McCartney was the MOR one has never listened to John Lennon’s solo albums, which contain much less of interest than PM’s of the same period. Plastic Ono Band is excellent, Imagine has its moments, but Mind Games, Walls and Bridges and Double Fantasy are on the whole unremarkable MOR pap, and Rock and Roll and Sometime in New York City (and Live Peace In Toronto, which I don’t know if it counts, but was in a box set of LPs I had) are just rubbish.

Thursday, 9 November 2006

guy's chapel

Today on the way from Surestart at the Chipper Club to catch the RV1 for toasted panini at the South Bank and then playgroup at Coin Street, we bought a racing car, an I'm A Little Teapot book and two large counting jigsaws at the Guy's charity portakabin, we popped into Guy's Chapel, where a student was practising on the piano very pleasantly and there was a nice sculpture of Thomas Guy.

Interesting info on Thomas Guy from that King's webpage:
'Thomas Guy (1644-1724) was an eccentric and controversial philanthropist. He made a huge amount of money by printing Bibles illegally. He was particularly concerned for vulnerable people, though he was sometimes accused of being self-serving in the kind of help he gave.

'However, most of all, he is remembered for an act of extraordinary generosity. He 'got lucky' through his investments in the south seas, and cashed in his shares, before the 'South Sea Bubble' burst. At the time he was a governor of St Thomas' Hospital, which was then located on the London Bridge side of St Thomas' Street. He hated to see poor people who were not fully well, and people with mental health problems, being discharged before they were healed (see the magnificent sculpture in the chapel, which shows Guy rescuing a vulnerable person from the gutter). So with his huge wealth, he decided, in 1721, to found a new hospital from which no one would ever be turned away. He died soon after dedicating his money to this cause.

'You can still see the original hospital: The Collonade was built first, with the two little courtyards on either side of it. The front courtyard followed, with the statue of Thomas Guy in the centre. This part of the complex was completed in 1780. It is a little gem of Georgian architecture, and there are hopes to restore it to it's orginal glory.'

This walk on the Lost Industries site covers Guy's and a lot of other interesting stuff in the area that we regularly walk through, with some good links also.

beatles on the balcony

The last time we were at the National Portrait Gallery, a few Saturdays ago, we saw this exhibition, The Beatles on the Balcony, which was interesting. I spent most of the rest of my time there following M around as she did running circuits through the galleries as if doing speed art appreciation.

I read a few years ago that the UK was unusual in having portrait galleries, in London and Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 8 November 2006

the ungentlemanly art of killing at distance

The prosecution of mobile operations with artillery and firearms demanded, therefore, a change in the cultural attitude of Renaissance armies. Though they had admitted gunpowder technology to their traditional practices, they had not adjusted to its logic. Like the Mamelukes who bore down, sword in hand, on the firearms of the Egyptian sultan’s black slaves, they were still trapped in an ethos which accorded warrior status only to horsemen and to infantry prepared to stand and fight with edged weapons. Fighting at a distance with missiles was beneath the descendants of the armoured men-at-arms who had dominated European warmaking since the age of Charlemagne. They wanted to fight from horseback, as their grandfathers had done, and they wanted such infantry man as accompanied them to bear the manly risks of standing to receive cavalry at point of pike. If guns had to take their place on the battlefield, then let it be behind ramparts, which was where missile weapons had always belonged. What the horse soldier did not want to see was the sturdy footman reduced to the level of the cunning crossbow mercenary: what he wanted to do even less was dismount and learn the black art of gunpowder himself.
...
The force of this face-to-face tradition [as opposed to killing at distance by spear, bow or gunpowder] provoked the warrior crisis of the sixteenth century. The attitude to crossbowmen of Bayard, chevalier sans peur et sans reproche, is well known; he had them executed when taken prisoner, on the ground that their weapon was a cowardly one and their behaviour treacherous. Armed with a crossbow a man might, without any of the long apprenticeship to arms necessary to make a knight, and equally without the moral effort required of a pike-wielding footman, kill either of them from a distance without putting himself in danger. What was true of the crossbowman was even more true of the handgunner; the way he fought seemed equally cowardly, and noisy and dirty as well, while requiring no muscular effort whatsoever. ‘What is the use, any more,’ asked the biographer of the sixteenth-century warrior Louis de la Tremouille, ‘of the skill-at-arms of the knights, their strength, their hardihood, their discipline and their desire for honour when such [gunpowder] weapons may be used in war?’

Yet, for all the protests of the traditional warrior class, it was clear by the mid-sixteenth century that firearms as well as cannon had come to stay. The arquebus and the heavier musket, both fired by a mechanism which brought a slow match to the priming-pan by the release of a trigger, were efficient weapons, the latter capable of penetrating armour at 200-240 paces. The foot-soldier's breastplate was of decreasing value as a means of protection; even more ominously, so was the horseman's full armour. By the end of the century it was no longer worn, and cavalry itself was losing its decisive purpose on the battlefield. That purpose had always been equivocal; the effect of a cavalry charge had always depended more on the moral frailty of those receiving it than on the objective power of horse and rider. And once the horseman encountered an opponent who could muster the resolve to stand, as the Swiss pikemen had found, or a weapon that could bring a rider to the ground with certainty, as the musket could, the right of the knightly class to determine how armies should be ordered, and to retain an equivalent social pre-eminence, was called into question. In France and Germany, the aristocracies held out against the pressure 'to dismount in order to stiffen foot soldiery', but the facts of life were not on their side, and neither were the state paymasters, who increasingly wanted value for money. In England, Italy and Spain the traditional military class were readier to scent the changed direction in which the breeze was blowing, to embrace the new technology of gunpowder and to persuade itself that to fight on foot might be an honourable calling after all.

p331-334, John Keegan, A History of Warfare

Tuesday, 7 November 2006

youtube: weeping ukulele, weird al does palindromes dylanly

Two videos on YouTube, tipoff from Rocking Vicar.

This is Jake Shimabukuro playing While My Guitar Gently Weeps on a ukulele in Central Park, which is quite pleasant.

And this is Weird Al Yankovic doing a pastiche of Bob Dylan (115th Dream-ish tune, Subterranean Homesick Blues video) in which every line is a palindrome, and is tremendous. I need to seek out some more Weird Al (there may be much more on YouTube - I've already come across Amish Paradise); Eat It still sticks in my mind, and he bears repeated listens I think. Unlike the Barron Knights.

Those palindromes in full:

I, man, am regal - a German am I
Never odd or even
If I had a hi-fi
Madam, I'm Adam
Too hot to hoot
No lemons, no melon
Too bad I hid a boot
Lisa Bonet ate no basil
Warsaw was raw
Was it a car or a cat I saw?

Rise to vote, sir
Do geese see god?
"Do nine men interpret?" "Nine men," I nod
Rats live on no evil star
Won't lovers revolt now?
Race fast, safe car
Pa's a sap
Ma is as selfless as I am
May a moody baby doom a yam?

Ah, Satan sees Natasha
No devil lived on
Lonely Tylenol
Not a banana baton
No "x" in "Nixon"
O, stone, be not so
O Geronimo, no minor ego
"Naomi," I moan
"A Toyota's a Toyota"
A dog, a panic in a pagoda

Oh no! Don Ho!
Nurse, I spy gypsies - run!
Senile felines
Now I see bees I won
UFO tofu
We panic in a pew
Oozy rat in a sanitary zoo
God! A red nugget! A fat egg under a dog!
Go hang a salami, I'm a lasagna hog