Sunday, May 30, 2010

Quote: Margot Asquith

"I married beneath me, all women do."

-  Margot Asquith (1864 - 1945),  British socialite, hostess, author,wit and wife of Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister of Britain 1908 - 1916


It is ironic that every day millions of people CC and BCC emails without a clue as to why the sending of a copy or a blind copy, that is, without the recipient being shown, is designated as CC and BCC.  It is even more ironic that the intials come from a an item that teenagers, madly SMSing, emailing and CCing, have never heard of, seen or handled.

The initials mean Carbon Copy and Blind Carbon Copy.

RIP Dennis Hopper (1936 - 2010)

Dennis Hopper, 74, died today of prostate cancer. He died at his home, surrounded by his family.

Hopper began his career in 1955 aged 19 in the James Dean  teenage rebellion film Rebel Without a Cause, however he didn't come to major attention intil 1969 for his role as Billy in Easy Rider.  He also wrote and directed the movie, a story of two drug-dealing bikers travelling through the American Deep South.  The movie also starred Peter Fonda as the other biker, known as Captain America from the emblem on his helmet and motorcycle, and introduced Jack Nicholson.

He also starred in Apocalypse Now, Rumblefish and Speed and his last major feature film appearanc e was in 2008 when he starred in Elegy alongside Sir Ben Kingsley, Penelope Cruz and Debbie Harry.

Hopper was awarded a Hollywood Walk of Fame Star in March this year and apperaed frail when he atended for the unveiling.  At his death he was also involved in Family Law custody procedings with his fifth wife.

Click on the following for some Dennis Hopper Easy Rider memories:

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quote: Laurens Van Der Post

"On the night that the Second World war was declared, there were crowds in the street.  It was a summer's night and there was a blackout.  On every side you heard people crying:  'Look at the moon!'  The moon had been there every minute of their lives and they'd never seen it."

-  Laurens Van Der Post (1906 - 1996)

Of Bygone Days and Soap

A story during the week that Kylie Minogue has foregone Botox in favour of Ponds Cold Cream –
a non-fancy product that has been around since Noah was a lad, brought back memories of similar products from my own younger days, such as Blue Stratos and Old Spice after shave. And soap.

Back when I was a youngster, there were two soaps in our family home: sugar soap, an industrial strength soap which my mother used to wash my father’s painter’s overalls, and Sunlight Soap for everything else. Sunlight Soap was on a level not far below sugar soap but it multi tasked, from using it for showers to scrubbing stains. If you had a splinter that wouldn’t budge, you mixed Sunlight Soap with sugar to make a poultice to act as a drawing agent.

Quote: Prince Philip

"I declare this thing open, whatever it is."

Prince Phillip (1921 - ), on opening the new east wing of Vancouver City Hall in 1970.

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya..."

I was discussing The Princess Bride with someone. 

I am not afraid to say that it is one of my personal favourite movies, so many great moments, so many great characters, so many wonderful lines. One classic scene is that of Inigo Montoya seeking revenge on the wicked, six fingered Count Rugen for the brutal slaying of Inigo’s father when Inigo was a child. Since that time, Inigo has trained as a swordsman and searched for the 6 fingered man, to one day kill him.

I previously posted it for Fathers Day in honour of the line that Inigo proposes to say to the man when he finally finds him:  "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

See the classic scene by clicking on the following link:

My point, however, in positing the above item a second time is to introduce you to a different and contrasting version of the same scene. I will not say anything apart from encouraging you to click on the link:

I also like the comment by someone at the above site:
“Hello. my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
“No, Inigo... I AM YOUR FATHER!"

Welcome to my Nightmare...

(Click on photo to enlarge).

If you happen to be driving to or from Canberra, take the time to make a slight detour off the Federal Highway and visit the village of Collector, located just this side of Lake George. The unusual name comes from the Aboriginal name for the region, colegdar.

Why visit? Not because it is a historic township dating back to the 1840’s, although that is of interest. Not because there are some interesting buildings to look at, including the old church. Nor because the old pub, the Bushranger Hotel, built in 1860, serves a good counter lunch and has a display of old firearms and memorabilia. Nor because in 1865 John Dunn, a member of Ben Hall’s gang, shot the local Constable Samuel Nelson dead in the main street whilst Hall and John Gilbert held up the hotel (and hence the change of name to the Bushranger Hotel). Nelson was the father of eight children; Dunn was hanged in 1866, aged 20.

Stop by because after you have had a look at the memorial to Constable Nelson, made a visit to the old church and had lunch in the Bushranger Hotel, you should walk across the road and look at the sculpture that feels like something out of The Twilight Zone. Take the opportunity for a look before it disappears.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Quote: Richard Burton

"When I played drunks I had to remain sober because I didn't know how to play them when I was drunk."

-  Richard Burton (1925-1984)

Winston Churchill

Scheduled to address the nation one day, Winston Churchill, running unusually late, hailed a cabbie in London's West End and ordered him to drive to the BBC as quickly as possible.

"Sorry, sir," the driver replied. "You'll have to find yourself another cab." "And why is that?" Churchill asked. "Ordinarily it wouldn't be a problem, sir," the driver apologetically explained, "but Mr. Churchill is broadcasting at six o'clock and I want to get home in time to hear him."

Churchill, greatly flattered, took a pound note from his wallet and handed it to the cabbie. The man gladly took the tip: "Hop in, sir!" he exclaimed. "The devil with Mr. Churchill!"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quote: Mark Twain

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great."

-  Mark Twain  (1835 - 1910)

You're Getting Old When... You know who Bobby Rydell is

In the last couple of days I feel like I’ve been caught up in a time warp.

Driving past Burwood RSL I noticed a coming attractions sign for The Platters.

Then today whilst driving into the city for a meeting, I heard Bobby Rydell being interviewed.

What is amazing about that is not only that he is still alive and touring Oz for performances, but that he sounded quite young on the interview.

Younger readers may only know his name from the high school in Grease, Rydell High (and yes, it was named after him).

Born in 1942 as Robert Louis Ridarelli, he began performing at age 4. In 1959, aged 17, he had his first hit record, becoming a teen idol in 1960 alongside such names as Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Johnny Tillotson and Bobby Vee. In May 1960 Rydell toured Australia with the Everly Brothers, Crash Craddock and The Crickets.  Further hits followed but the British Invasion in 1963 ended the teen idol days.  Today he still performs with Frankie Avalon and Fabian as The Golden Boys.

Click on the following links to see him in his heyday and in a more recent performance, where he still looks and sounds good:

For those interested in his tour dates and venues, click on:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Leonard Cohen: The Second Coming

The web site given above in relation to the Bibby Rydell dates also contains the information on another tour later this year by Leonard Cohen:

Half a dozen different dates have so far been confirmed in different States. The one in NSW will be at the Acer Arena on 8 November 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quote: Martin Niemoller

"First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me and by that time no one was left to speak up."

-  Martin Niemoller (1892 - 1984), German Lutheran pastor.  An outspoken opponent of Nazism, he was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps (1937-1945),

The Roaring Days - Henry Lawson

(Prospectors at Bendigo, by Robert Todonai)

The Roaring Days

The night too quickly passes
And we are growing old,
So let us fill our glasses
And toast the Days of Gold;
When finds of wondrous treasure
Set all the South ablaze,
And you and I were faithful mates
All through the roaring days!

And when the cheery camp-fire
Explored the bush with gleams,
The camping-grounds were crowded
With caravans of teams;
Then home the jests were driven,
And good old songs were sung,
And choruses were given
The strength of heart and lung.

Oft when the camps were dreaming,
And fires began to pale,
Through rugged ranges gleaming
Swept on the Royal Mail.
Behind six foaming horses,
And lit by flashing lamps,
Old Cobb and Co., in royal state,
Went dashing past the camps.

Oh, who would paint a goldfield,
And paint the picture right,
As we have often seen it
In early morning's light;
The yellow mounds of mullock
With spots of red and white,
The scattered quartz that glistened
Like diamonds in light;

Ah, then their hearts were bolder,
And if Dame Fortune frowned
Their swags they'd lightly shoulder
And tramp to other ground.
Oh, they were lion-hearted
Who gave our country birth!
Stout sons, of stoutest fathers born,
From all the lands on earth!

Those golden days are vanished,
And altered is the scene;
The diggings are deserted,
The camping-grounds are green;
The flaunting flag of progress
Is in the West unfurled,
The mighty bush with iron rails
Is tethered to the world.

-  Henry Lawson

Monday, May 24, 2010

What the...? The 2012 London Olympic Mascots

(Click on picture to enlarge)
In 2007 the organisers of the 2012 London Olympic Games announced the logo for those games, a design based on the numbers 2012:

 The logo was largely disliked. Ken Livingstone, then Lord mayor of London, declared that the design company responsible for the logo should not be paid for what he called a "catastrophic mistake"..

"Sorry, Copernicus..."

Today’s newspapers carried two interesting stories about two great figures from history…

Nicolaus Copernicus reburied as universal hero

NICOLAUS Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Catholic Church as heretical, was reburied by Polish priests as a hero on Saturday, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in disgrace in an unmarked grave.

Copernicus's burial in a tomb in the cathedral where he once served as a church canon and doctor indicates how far the church has come in making peace with the scientist whose revolutionary theory that the earth revolves around the sun helped bring in the modern scientific age. Copernicus, who lived from 1473 to 1543, died as a little-known astronomer working in a remote part of northern Poland. He spent years developing his theory, which was condemned as heresy by the church because it showed the earth and humanity were not the centre of the universe. After Copernicus's death, his body stayed in an unmarked grave under the floor of the cathedral in Frombork, on the Baltic coast.

On Saturday, his remains were blessed with holy water by some of Poland's highest Catholic clerics before an honour guard carried his coffin through the cathedral and lowered it back into the same spot where part of his skull and other bones were found in 2005. A black granite tombstone, decorated with a model of the solar system, now identifies Copernicus as the founder of heliocentric theory, and as a church canon, a cleric ranking below a priest.

Scientists began searching graves for the astronomer's remains in 2004 and eventually turned up the skull and bones of a 70-year-old man - the age Copernicus was when he died. A computer reconstruction made by forensic police based on the skull showed a broken nose and other features that resemble Copernicus's self-portrait. In a later stage of the investigation, DNA taken from the teeth and bones matched that from hairs found in one of the astronomer's books, leading the scientists to conclude they had finally found Copernicus.

The Australian, 24 May 2010

Leonardo's Robot

Gabriele Niccolai, an engineering model maker from Florence, Italy, stands next to one of the models he's created from the original drawings of Leonardo Di Vinci at the Sydney DA VINCI SECRETS - 'Anatomy to Robots' exhibition. (Click picture to enlarge).

From 20 May 2010 to 2 August 2010 Sydney Town Hall will be the venue for an amazing exhibition: DA VINCI SECRETS – 'Anatomy to Robots'.  The exhibition is on loan from the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence and comprises anatomical panels and models, interactive robotics and machines inspired by anatomy, machines and panels inspired by nature, optics, theatre and art, artworks and frescoes.

The website for the exhibition is at:

The newspaper article which drew my attention to the exhibition was a story about Leonardo’s robot. Leonardo designed a robot which has since been created by people working off the small number of drawing and designs that remain, most having been lost. The created robot is part of the Sydney Town Hall exhibition.  The article is too long to reprint here but may be read by clicking on:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Spirit of Oz

On a wall outside the Sari Club, Bali, after theb terrorist bombings:
(click on picture to enlarge)

Sir Stanley Unwin

Sir Stanley Unwin (1884-1968), noted British publisher, was dining with a foreign publisher who offered him a cigarette. Sir Stanley rejected the offer, saying "I tried it once but didn't like it." At the end of the meal the foreign publisher suggested a brandy. Sir Stanley refused: "I tried it once but didn't like it." Next day, Sir Stanley introduced the foreign publisher to his son. The foreign publisher quipped "Your only son, I take it?"

(In fairness, I should point out that I have also seen this posted as a joke and that I have been unable to track down any further reference to the incident beyond the above entry in a book of collected wit and wisdom of various persons).

Heaven and Hell

Heaven is where:

The British are the policemen.

The French are the cooks.

The Germans make the cars.

The Italians are the lovers

 and the Swiss organise everything.

Hell is where:

The British are the cooks.

The French make the cars.

The Germans are the policemen

The Swiss are the lovers

and the Italians organise everything.

Cooee March, 1915

When I was researching the World War 1 recruiting posters of Norman Lindsay that I posted last Anzac Day, I came across again some information on the Cooee Marchers.

The word cooee, sometimes written as coo-ee, is a traditional shout used to attract attention in the bush. Shouted correctly, it carries a considerable distance. The word originates from the Dharuk language, the original inhabitants of the Sydney area. It means "come here” and was used by the Dharuk people to call to each other in this way.

By late 1915 the setbacks in the Dardanelles and the increasing casualty figures at Gallipoli and in France had caused the initial fervour for participation in the war to dissipate. Recruiting figures had plummeted across the country, despite recruiting posters calling for assistance. Recruiting rallies became increasingly ineffective.

In the central western NSW town of Gilgandra, local butcher Dick Hitchen met with his brother Bill, the local plumber, for one of their usual post-dinner chats. Eventually the topic turned to recruitment. Together they came up with the idea of a march to Sydney, collecting volunteer recruits along the way.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Quotes: Alan Clark

"There are no true friends in politics. We are all sharks circling, and waiting, for traces of blood to appear in the water."

“In the end we are all sacked and it's always awful. It is as inevitable as death following life. If you are elevated there comes a day when you are demoted. Even Prime Ministers.”

Alan Clark (1928-1999), British Conservative MP, military historian, and diarist who served as a minister in Margaret Thatcher's governments

KISS Principle and Occam's Razor


The KISS Principle and Occam’s Razor (also written as Ockham's Razor)


The Kiss Principle refers to the acronym for Keep It Simple, Stupid or the more polite version, Keep It Short and Simple.

There are various explanations as to what the principle actually means, but all have the key message that simplicity should be the goal and that unnecessary complexity should be avoided.

Others have formulated similar concepts and expressed similar ideas in the past:

Albert Einstein: “Everything should be made as simple as possible but no simpler.”

Leonardo Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Antoine de Saint Exupery: "It seems that perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away".

Friday, May 21, 2010

Morecambe and Wise: The Beatles

"Hello Bongo".

For those who enjoyed the Morecambe and Wise sketch with Andre Previn yesterday (I did receive some positive feedback), here's another, this time with The Beatles.  This was filmed in December 1963 and shown in April 1964. 

When asked in 1994 to name the favourite TV show in which the Beatles had appeared over the years, Paul McCartney declared The Morecambe and Wise Show,

See the clip at:

Quote: Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll, Through The Looking Glass

Burger King

Just to show that eyebrow raising ads aren’t only from the 1940’s and 1950’s, the above poster is from a 2009 Burger King promotion in Singapore, a country usually renowned for its restrictive laws. The poster is wrong on just so many levels. The sexual innuendo is not just in the image, it also appears in the name of the sandwich and in the print, both large and small (“Fill your desire for something long, juicy and flame grilled”). Click on the image to enlarge.

Although Burger King apologised in 2009 for running an ad depicting the Hindu goddess Lakshmi sitting on top of a sandwich with the words “Snack is sacred”, it did not apologise for, or withdraw, the Singapore ad, despite widespread criticism.

Lauren Kuziner, a spokeswoman for Burger King, said the campaign was produced by a local Singaporean agency and not by the company's U.S. advertising firm. In a prepared statement she said:
Burger King Corp. values and respects all of its guests,This print ad is running to support a limited time promotion in the Singapore market and is not running in the U.S. or any other markets. The campaign is supported by the franchisee in Singapore and has generated positive consumer sales around this limited time product offer in that market.
Burger King has, in the past, featured such classy advertising in the US as:

- Whopper Virgins:

- I like square butts:

- The slogan “It Takes Two Hands to Handle a Whopper”.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quote: Sir John Gielgud

"Interesting name - sounds like a fart in the bath."

John Gielgud (1904 - 2000) on being introduced to Edward Woodward,

(When asked by Eric Morecambe who would ever appear in one of Ernie Wise's 'little plays what he wrote', Ernie replied "Edward Woodward would.")

Grieg's Piano Concerto by Grieg

"I'm playing all the right notes—but not necessarily in the right order."

British comedy, in my opinion, is funnier and superior to American comedy. Maybe we relate to it more because of our British origins, that the subtlety of British humour strikes us more than it does the Seppos.

Eric Morecambe (1926 - 1984) and Ernie Wise (1925 – 1999), a double act known as Morecambe and Wise, were two of Britain’s greatest comedians. Their partnership lasted from 1941 until Morecambe's death in 1984, their careers covering variety, radio, film and most notably television.

Their TV show included sketches with guest stars, one of the most fondly remembered being the 1971 sketch with the conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, Andre Previn, referred to continually in the sketch as Andrew Preview and Andrew Privet.

It is a masterpiece of comedy – the lines, the timing, the facial expressions.

Click on the following link to view the sketch:

Some comments:

- Because of other commitments, Previn had not had time to rehearse the sketch. Instead he read it on his way to the studio. It is for this reason that the ad-lib of the hand on the shoulder by Previn surprises Eric Morecambe. Likewise, at the point where Previn says he’ll get his baton, it’s in Chicago, Morecambe punches the air with his fist and ad-libs the line "Pow! He's in! I like him! I like him!” This was a recognition of the sketch working and Morecambe being impressed by Previn’s sense of timing.

- Previn has commented that 25 years after that sketch, London taxi drivers still call out to him “Hey, Mr Preview.

- See Andrew Preview’s comments and recollections about the sketch from about  2000, at:

- At a concert in Britain afterwards, Previn had to stop the playing of the Grieg Concerto to allow the audience time to stop giggling as they remembered the sketch.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Farewell Law & Order

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories…

Chung Chung

After 20 seasons, NBC has announced that it is not renewing Law & Order.

Chung Chung.

Some trivia:

- Law & Order was referred to in the industry as the mother ship, to distinguish it from spinoffs such as Law & Order SVU (12 seasons) and Law & Order Criminal Intent (9 seasons). Those spinoffs will continue.

- Had Law & Order The Mother Ship been renewed, it would have become the longest running scripted drama show. It will now remained tied with Gunsmoke.

- There is a further spinoff in the US, Law & Order Los Angeles.

-  I like the comment by one person on YouTube in reference to the Chung Chung sound used in the Law & Order episodes:  "If  I was a judge I would have this sound available by a button under the bench...Guilty...Doink...Doink...!"

- Click on the links:

A Muppet spoof, Law & Order Special Letters Unit, at:

The opening theme:

Chung Chung.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Pullman Bedbug Letter

Whilst discussing a customer complaint with a client, I was reminded of the Pullman bedbug complaint. A quick enquiry on the internet enabled me to locate it and even, that debunker of urban myths and furphies, states that it is believed to be true.

The story is that on 4 March 1889, Mr Phineas P Jenkins, a salesman of pig-iron products, travelled on the sleeper of the Pullman Palace Car Company.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quote: John Howard

“Maybe I'm a dull suburban solicitor.”

Former PM John Winston Howard (1939 - )

Quote: Bob Hawke

"This feat was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians more than anything else I ever achieved."

 Bob Hawke (1929 - ) in reference to his great beer drinking achievement, that in 1963 whilst a student at Oxford University, he downed a yard of ale in 11 seconds, putting him in the Guinness Book of Records as the world record holder.

Quote: Peal Keating

"You look like an Easter Island statue with an arse full of razor blades."

Paul Keating in the Australian Parliament to Malcolm Fraser, 1983

Quote: Sir Robert Menzies

With the worsening situation in Bangkok and the closer attention to northern enighbours in the last few years, it is appropriate to recall some words from Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (1894 - 1978), Prime Minister of Australia 1939-1941 and 1949-1966:

"What Great Britain calls the Far East is to us the near north."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vintage Ads

Perhaps the issue raised in the following ad should be considered by  Family Law practitioners when advising clients and by marital counsellors. 

Note the wording (click on the ad to enlarge, and again on the ad when it reappears)...
A man marries a woman because he loves her. So instead of blaming him when married love begins to cool, she should question herself. Is she truly trying to keep her husband and herself eager, happy married lovers? One most effective way to safeguard her dainty feminine allure is by practicing (sic) complete feminine hygiene as provided by vaginal douches with a scientifically correct preparation like "Lysol". ....

You, too, can rely on "Lysol" to help protect your married happiness . . .keep you desirable!
And what is this magic bullet that saves marriages, that keeps husbands ardent and faithful and is the ultimate in intimate products?  It is..

Reader Comment

From Byter Steve:
Diane and I visited Robert Louis Stevenson's grave and home when we went to Samoa last year. It’s a wonderful place, full of presence. I spent ages in his writing room and could feel him – there was an atmosphere which said “Here is a place where a great man lived and worked”. RLS was a great benefactor for the Island, and was loved dearly by the natives at all levels. His was a grand life, but he knew what it was like to be a common man and indeed he had a great respect for working people.

His body of work of course, is his legacy, and he should be remembered for its quality and his wonderfully furtive imagination. He doesn’t receive as much credit in the literary world as some of the great modern writers (Stephen King for instance), but he stands hands and shoulders above them all, and I believe he is there at the front of the line alongside the greatest story teller of them all – Charles Dickens. Apart from Dickens, who else has a legacy that touches so many people at so many levels?  For instance, find me an adult who hasn’t read Treasure Island and then find me a child who hasn’t read it or who doesn’t know the story? You can’t. He has spanned  generations and touched the lives of those millions upon millions of people and there is not a foul word amongst it.

A truly wonderful man.

Origin: $ and £

There are a number of explanations as to how the $ sign developed.

The most common is that the sign comes from the sign originally used for the peso, also known as the Spanish dollar. The sign used in Spain and Mexico for peso  –  a P followed by an S  –  gradually came to be written with the S overlaying the P, thereby giving rise to the $ sign. Support for this explanation comes from business correspondence in Britis North America from the 1770’s between British, Americans, Canadians and Mexicans using the $ sign. The term dollar and the dollar sign were adopted as US currency in 1785.

 An alternative explanation is that the sign comes from the figure 8 with a stroke through it, denoting pieces of eight, another name for the Spanish dollar. (The Spanish dollar, a silver coin, was also known as the real de a ocho, or eight-real coin, a dollar being worth 8 reales, hence the term pieces of eight, Robert Louis Stevenson’s tale Treasure Island and its depiction of Long John Silver’s parrot constant calling out “Pieces of Eight” led to the association of pieces of eight with pirates).

The name 'dollar', however, derives from the Dutch or Low German word daler (in German taler or thaler) - originally Joachimstaler, referring to a coin from the silver mines of Joachimstal, in Bohemia (now Jáchymov in the Czech Republic), which opened in 1516.

The pound sign - £ - being the symbol for the basic currency unit of the United Kingdom, derives from a capital "L", standing for libra, the basic Roman unit of weight, which is in turn derived from the Latin word for scales or a balance. The pound became a British unit of weight, and the pound currency unit was so named because it was originally the value of 1 pound Tower Weight (326 g)] of fine (pure) silver.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Poem: Robert Louis Stevenson

Watching Jessica Watson on TV arrive home on Saturday afternoon, I was struck by some of the first words spoken to her by her mother after she stepped ashore:  “Home is the sailor home from the sea.”  The irony of that comment upon Jessica Watson’s homecoming is that the words come from a poem that is a requiem, a death poem.

The work is actually called Requiem and was written in 1879 by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Stevenson was a sickly man for the whole of his life and suffered from tuberculosis, dying of a cerebral haemorrhage. Stevenson spent his last five years on the island of Samoa as a planter and chief of the natives. Requiem was penned at a time when he was ill, distraught and close to death.  The poem is engraved on his tombstone in Samoa:
Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
 Stevenson with his wife and household in Samoa - click on picture to enlarge.

Marilyn Monroe

Brit born Aussie Naomi Watts, 41, is to play Marilyn Monroe in a biopic of Marilyn’s life. That's Naomi Watts above as Marilyn, the real Marilyn below.

The movie starts filming in January and will be called Blonde. It will be based on the controversial biography of Marilyn Monroe, also called Blonde, by US author Joyce Carol Oates. Released in 2000, it is an “imagined memoir” which features detailed sex scenes, including one with President John F Kennedy whilst he is on the phone to Fidel Castro. Two other Marilyn Monroe movies are also in the works. Marilyn is based on accounts by former deputy LA Coroner Lionel Grandison that he was forced to falsify the death certificate from murder to suicide. My Week with Marilyn is based on Marilyn’s filming of The Prince and the Showgirl with Sir Laurence Olivier.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Quote: Groucho Marx

When Groucho Marx enquired in the 1930's as to membership of an American country club, he was advised that the club had a restricted membership policy, that is, it did not allow Jews to become members.  The club offered to waive its no-Jews rule for Groucho provided he abstained from using the swimming pool.  Groucho, married to someone who was not Jewish, remarked “My daughter’s only half Jewish, can she wade in up to her knees?”

Movies: The Medusa Touch


This movie is, imho, vastly underrated. The brooding presence and wonderfully evocative voice of Richard Burton make this movie. It is a hard one to find but worth tracking down, otherwise try getting a copy on Amazon. I believe that it is available on DVD.

Not only are the matters raised in this movie thought provoking (no pun intended), there are scenes which are ironically and horribly topical in the present day, notwithstanding that the movie was made in 1978, more than 30 years ago.  The scene of the airliner striking the office block is horrific in the light og 9/11, but that hasn't stopped more recent posters higlighting that fact: