Saturday, December 31, 2011

Funny Friday


The priest was waiting on Saturday afternoon for his usual parade of people coming to confession. In comes a man so drunk, he is stumbling down the aisle, bouncing from pew to pew. Finally he finds the confessional, goes in, and shuts the door.

The priest goes in his side and waits. Nothing happens. He clears his throat so the fellow might know he is there and ready. No reaction. Finally, he starts losing his patience and bangs sharply on the wall three times.

The drunk fellow in the confessional says, "It's no use knockin'...There's no paper in here either!"

Two elderly Jewish ladies meet on a street corner.

"So Sadie, how's by you I haven't seen you in years?"

"Marvellous, Rivkeh, things couldn't be better! My son Harold is an accountant making lots of money.  My daughter Cynthia married a rich man and both of my children have given me beautiful grandchildren and so much naches...but enough about my what's by you and your family?"

"Oy Sadie, don't ask! Me, I have such tsores!"

"Nu Rivkeh, I'm so sorry to hear that; but what kind of tsores?"

"It's my son Arnold. He revealed to us that he's a faygeleh."

"Oy, a faygeleh, what a disaster!"

"I know, but we do have a consolation..."

"Vos for a consolation with a faygeleh?"

"Well, he's going with such a nice Jewish boy who's going to be a doctor!"


Brenda O'Malley is home making dinner as usual, when Tim Finnegan arrives at her door.

"Brenda, may I come in?" he asks. "I've somethin' to tell ya."

"Of course you can come in. You're always welcome, Tim. But where's my husband?"

"That's what I'm here to be tellin' ya, Brenda. There was an accident down at the Guinness brewery."

"Oh, God no!" cries Brenda. "Please don't tell me..."

"I must, Brenda. Your husband Shamus is dead and gone. I'm sorry."

Finally, she looked up at Tim. "How did it happen, Tim?"

"It was terrible, Brenda. He fell into a vat of Guinness and drowned."

"Oh my dear Jesus! But you must tell me true, Tim. Did he at least go quickly?"

"Well, no. Fact is, he got out three times to take a pee.

2011 in Quotes - The World, Part #3



"As for me running for president, look, there's a guy in office who is smarter than anyone you know, and nicer, and he's having an almost impossible time governing. Why would anyone volunteer for that job? I have a very good job, so I have no interest." -- George Clooney.

"He should be behind bars." -- US secretary of state Hillary Clinton, on Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi.

"You're in total isolation and don't know how long you're going to be there. But you truly believe they can do anything to you. There's no way to even question it. You're not protected by anything. Why am I here? Your mind is very uncertain of time. You become like mad. It's very hard for anyone. Even for people who have strong beliefs. " -- Ai Weiwei, artist, on being imprisoned in China.

"I am very sad to tell you that I've just been fired over the phone by Yahoo!'s chairman of the board." -- Carol A. Bartz, Yahoo!'s chief executive, in e-mail sent to employees with subject line 'Goodbye'.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Quote: Amy Winehouse


"I'm not religious at all. I think faith is something that gives you strength. I believe in fate and I believe that things happen for a reason but I don't think that there's a high power, necessarily. I believe in karma very much though. There are so many rude people around and they're the people that don't have any real friends. And relationships with people - with your mum, your nan, your dog - are what you get the most happiness in life from. Apart from shoes and bags. "

-           Amy Winehouse

 Amy Jade Winehouse (1983-2011) died on 23 July this year.  Not only did the world lose a troubled soul tormented by her inner demons and by substance abuse, it also lost a unique singing and songwriting talent.

Following is a brief chronology:

Born in North London to a Jewish family.  Taxi driver father Mitch sings Frank Sinatra songs to her and she develops an interest in jazz early on, even singing in class at school.
Parents separate.  At the suggestion of her grandmother, starts attending Susi Earnshaw Theatre School
Forms a short lived rap group, Sweet ‘n’ Sour
Changes to Sylvia Young Theatre School.
Receives first guitar
Begins writing her first music
Starts work as entertainment journalist and starts singing with local group The Bolsha Band.
Is the featured female vocalist with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.  Influences are Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.
Signs with record company 19 Management.  Also signs publishing deal with EMI.  Adopts Cleopatra makeup and beehive hairdo from 1960’s girl group The Ronettes.
Debut album Frank successful in the UK. Apart from two covers, every song co-written by Amy Winehouse.
Follow up album Back to Black nominated for 6 Grammy awards, wins 5 including Best New Artist, Record of the Year and Song of the Year.
Marries Blake Fielder-Civil.
Her life publicly spirals out of control, including drug use, alcohol abuse, violence, inability to perform, bizarre statements and aborted rehab attempts.
Fielder-Civil imprisoned 2008 and 2009 for perverting the course of justice and assault.
Winehouse becomes involved with other men and women.
Winehouse divorced.
Her substance abuse and mental health issues continue.
She is also charged with various assaults at different times.
Records duet of Body and Soul with Tony Bennett for his Duets 11 album (photo above).
One month later she dies of alcohol poisoning.
On December 6 2011 an album of unreleased material, Lioness:  Hidden Treasure, is released.

“I know Amy Winehouse very well. And she is very different to what people portray her as being. Yes, she does get out of her mind on drugs sometimes, but she is also a very clever, intelligent, witty, funny person who can hold it together. You just don't see that side.”

-    Lily Allen

“Singer Amy Winehouse, who died in London overnight, has joined a tragic group of famous rock stars who passed away at the age of 27 - the notorious 27 Club. Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones, guitarist Jimi Hendrix, singer Janis Joplin. The Doors singer Jim Morrison and Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain are the other major "members" of the ill-fated club.”

- News report

2011 in Quotes - The World, Part #2



 "If you are really in this to prevent a humanitarian disaster, the only way you can really prevent it is to have Gaddafi not able to inflict [it]." -- US Senator John McCain, who called for "the full weight of US airpower" to assist anti-Gaddafi Libyan rebels.

 "In my last year and a half my oldest son is in federal prison, my ex-wife is suing me and I got cancer. It's kind of hard for the wife to say 'I'm depressed.' 'Depressed, huh? How about some cancer?' She's got to be stoic and deal with all the stuff I'm going through." -- Michael Douglas explains how his wife Catherine Zeta Jones let her depression build up into a crisis.

"I owe a lot to a cow." --Lobsang Sangay, newly elected political leader of Tibetans in exile, on how during his childhood in northern India his family sold one of its cows in order to pay his school fees.

 "Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that." -- Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State, responding to a question about former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's criticism of her in his memoir.

"Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who's responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children." US President Barack Obama

"There is no doubt we have killed Osama bin Laden. The fact of the matter is you will not see bin Laden walking on this earth again." -- US President Barack Obama lays the conspiracy theories to rest.

"I have $9m left. It's a decent amount and I'm not looking for sympathy, but it isn't an awful lot for someone who has been at the top of his profession for 40 years." -- Comedian John Cleese after paying his third ex-wife $16m.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Freddie Mercury - The Early Years


Byter Steve enquired of me earlier in the year as to Freddie Mercury's birthplace and early years.

The following text is from Wikipedia:

Mercury was born in the British protectorate of Zanzibar. East Africa (now part of Tanzania). His parents, Bomi and Jer Bulsara, were Parsis from the Gujarat region of the then province of Bombay  in Vritish India. The family surname is derived from the town of Bulsar (also known as Valsad) in southern Gujarat. As Parsis, Mercury and his family practised the Zoroastrian religion. The Bulsara family had moved to Zanzibar so that his father could continue his job as a cashier at the British Colonial Office. He had a younger sister, Kashmira.

2011 in Quotes - The World, Part #1



"The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!" -- Ted Williams, former homeless man who became viral celebrity for his "golden voice" in video on YouTube; he has since received multiple job offers. 
"The tumor is gone." -- Michael Douglas, actor, saying he believes he is cancer-free after underdoing treatment for growth on his tongue.

"I can move my forehead again." -- Nicole Kidman, actress, admits she used Botox and didn't like it.

"If there's one thing I would like to import from Britain to France it's the pubs." -- French Prime Minister François Fillon.

"We're not leaving if you don't want us to." - US Vice-President Joe Bidon, indicating to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, that US may keep troops in country beyond planned 2014 security handover if their services are still needed.
"I think it was the ugliest haircut I've ever seen. How did that thing have legs?" -- Jennifer Aniston, on the Rachel, a layered hairstyle made famous by her on the '90s hit sitcom Friends.

"I'd be better than Superman if I'd had parties with 24 girls." -- Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi tries to laugh off a prostitution scandal.

"It is important always to remember that virtual contact cannot and must not take the place of direct human contact with people at every level of our lives." -- Pope Benedict gives his approval to social networking websites, while cautioning people to not replace real friends with virtual friends.

"I don't think it's their fault...They're got to be much as anybody." -- Mark Kelly, husband of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, saying he would meet with parents of Giffords' accused shooter, Jared Loughner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More Interesting Photos. . .


2011 in Quotes - Australia


As we draw to the end of another year, it is of interest to look back on some issues, events and trends via quotations, Australia today and international over the next few days. . .

I'm a very happy little Vegemite being Prime Minister ... being Foreign Minister of Australia.  -- Kevin Rudd on ABC Central West, NSW.

“... that's how I consider them. Butt smellers.  -- Meatloaf on critics of his AFL grand final performance.

This is good news for Sheilas everywhere.   -- Prime Minister Julia Gillard to British Prime Minister David Cameron on changes to the Commonwealth law of succession.

"I can move my forehead again." -- Nicole Kidman, actress, admits she used Botox and didn't like it.

"I can tell already that you know, that everything I just said I lied about.  -- After recanting sex claims with Ricky Nixon, Kim Duthie apparently thought the interview with the 7pm Project was over.

“You have a true friend Down Under.”  -- Julia Gillard’s speech to the US Congress in Washington.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Quote: Roy M Goodman


“Happiness is a way of travel, not the destination.” 

-  Roy M Goodman 

Roy M Goodman (1930 - ) is an American politician who retired in 2001 after representing the East Side of Manhattan in the State Legislature for 33 years. He ran unsuccessfully for Mayor in 1977.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas


Bytes will be off the air for a few days. 

I take this opportunity to wish you all a safe, peaceful and joyous Christmas. 

I have enjpyed posting for the year, it is a learning experience for me as much as for those reading. Thanks to all those who contributed, whether by way of suggestions, comment or input, it is always appreciated.

Thanks also to my wife, Kate, a wonderful writer (and wonderful person) whose opinion I value most. In the words of noted wordsmith Mr Bogart, "Here's looking at you, kid."

Merry Christmas.  God bless Us! Every One!

The Gift of the Magi


The following item is lengthy, a short story by O. Henry 0pictured above), The Gift of the Magi.  O. Henry is to literature what Norman Rockwell is to art but I like his short stories, especially the one below.  Enjoy the holiday reading.  Happy trails.

 O. Henry was the pen name of the American writer William Sydney Porter (1862 – 1910). O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterisation and clever twist endings.  Porter's most prolific writing period started in 1902, when he moved to New York City to be near his publishers. While there, he wrote 381 short stories. He wrote a story a week for over a year for the New York World Sunday Magazine. His wit, characterization and plot twists were adored by his readers, but often panned by critics.  Most of O. Henry's stories are set in his own time, the early 20th century. Many take place in New York City and deal for the most part with ordinary people: clerks, policemen, waitresses.  The Gift of the Magi is one of his most famous and best known. 

The Gift of the Magi 

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

Last Words: Giuseppe Zangara

You give me electric chair. I no afraid of that chair! You one of capitalists. You is crook man too. Put me in electric chair. I no care! Get to hell out of here, you son of a bitch [spoken to the attending minister]… I go sit down all by myself… Viva Italia! Goodbye to all poor peoples everywhere!… Lousy capitalists! No picture! Capitalists! No one here to take my picture. All capitalists lousy bunch of crooks. Go ahead. Pusha da button!"

-          Giuseppe Zangara (1900-1933),
at his execution for the attempted assassin of US President Elect Franklin D Roosevelt.  Not only is his story worth telling for Funny Friday, his exploit resulted in the coining of a well known word that is now part of the English language.  More of that later.

Zangara was born in Italy, served in WW1 and moved to the US in 1923.  Physical and mental problems, including delusions, eventually prevented him from working at his trade, bricklaying. 

In 1933 he attempted to assassinate President Elect Roosevelt in Miami, Florida.  Being only 152 centimetres (5 feet in the old measurements, unless you’re American, in which case it is the current measurement) he was obliged to stand on a chair but as soon as he fired the first shot he was dragged down by persons nearby.  As a result he fired 4 more wild shots.  Five people were shot, including Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, who had been standing next to Roosevelt.

Zangara confessed to the shootingsand stated “I have the gun in my hand.  I will kill kings and presidents first and next all capitalists.”  He pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted murder and was sentenced to 80 years in prison. As he was led out of the courtroom, Zangara told the judge: "Four times 20 is 80. Oh, judge, don't be stingy. Give me a hundred years." The judge, aware that Cermak might not survive his wounds, replied: "Maybe there will be more later."

Nineteen days later and 2 days after Roosevelt’s inauguration Cermak died of peritonitis.  Zangara was then charged with murder, to which he pleaded guilty.  On being sentenced to death he stated "You give me electric chair.  I no afraid of that chair! You one of capitalists. You is crook man too. Put me in electric chair. I no care!"

Under Florida law, a convicted murderer could not share cell space with another prisoner before his execution, but another convicted murderer was already awaiting execution at thew prison in which he was held.  Zangara's sentence required prison officials to expand their waiting area and the "death cell" became Death Row.

When he had learned that his final moments would not be filmed by newsreel cameras he had become enraged.

Ten days after being put on Death Row, Zangara was executed in Old Sparky, the electric chair at Florida State Prison. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Funny Friday: Politically Correct Santa


by (c)Harvey Ehrlich

'Twas the night before Christmas and Santa's a wreck...
How to live in a world that's politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to "Elves",
"Vertically Challenged" they were calling themselves.

And labor conditions at the north pole
Were alleged by the union to stifle the soul.
Four reindeer had vanished, without much propriety,
Released to the wilds by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear
That Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
Were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his sleigh;
The ruts were termed dangerous by the E.P.A.
And people had started to call for the cops
When they heard sled noises on their roof-tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe had his workers quite frightened.
His fur trimmed red suit was called "Unenlightened."

And to show you the strangeness of life's ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose
And had gone on Geraldo, in front of the nation,
Demanding millions in over-due compensation.

So, half of the reindeer were gone; and his wife,
Who suddenly said she'd enough of this life,
Joined a self-help group, packed, and left in a whiz,
Demanding from now on her title was Ms.

And as for the gifts, why, he'd ne'er had a notion
That making a choice could cause so much commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur,
Which meant nothing for him. And nothing for her.

Nothing that might be construed to pollute.
Nothing to aim. Nothing to shoot.
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls. Or just for the boys.

Nothing that claimed to be gender specific.
Nothing that's warlike or non-pacific.
No candy or sweets...they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish a truth.

And fairy tales, while not yet forbidden,
Were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden.
For they raised the hackles of those psychological
Who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football...someone could get hurt;
Besides, playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist, and should be passe;
And Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, dishevelled, perplexed;
He just could not figure out what to do next.
He tried to be merry, tried to be gay,
But you've got to be careful with that word today.
His sack was quite empty, limp to the ground;
Nothing fully acceptable was to be found.
Something special was needed, a gift that he might
Give to all without angering the left or the right.

A gift that would satisfy, with no indecision,
Each group of people, every religion;
Every ethnicity, every hue,
Everyone, everywhere...even you.

So here is that gift, it's price beyond worth...
"May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on earth."

Quote: William O Douglas


 “As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

William O Douglas

 William Orville Douglas (1898 – 1980) was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.  He is the longest serving justice in the history of the Supreme Court, his term having lasted nearly 37 years.

Some Christmas Conversions . . .


A Christmas Carol

-  Charles Dickens

Merry Christmas!  Out upon merry Christmas! What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer; a time for balancing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented dead against you? If I could work my will," said Scrooge indignantly, "every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"
. . . 

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
. . .

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Dr Suess

“Every Who Down in Who-ville Liked Christmas a lot…
But the Grinch, Who lived just north of Who-ville, Did NOT! 
The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! 
Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason. 
It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right. 
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight. 
But I think that the most likely reason of all 
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.”

. . .

He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!”
“It came without packages, boxes or bags!”
And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.”
“Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Female Mind

Recently I posted an explanation of what women really mean in some commonly used expressions.

As a companion piece, here are some visual depictions of how women's minds work. . .

Have you ever wondered how the female brain functions? Study the item below carefully – it’s finally explained here in one simple and easy-to-understand illustration. 

Every one of those little blue balls is a thought about a task that needs to be carried out, a decision that needs to be made or a problem that needs concluding.  

Apparently men have only two balls which it is said take up most of their thoughts. 

(Note also that most of the blue balls in the above illustration end up in the central flashing sign that says “No”.)

O Holy Night

Another lengthy read but hopefully an interesting one. 
Save it for Christmas holiday reading if time does not permit.

O Holy Night has always been my favourite carol. Hear it sung by one of the greatest tenors who ever lived, Mario Lanza at:

Close your eyes and let the music and the rich voice of Mario Lanza wash over you.  I still get chills when I hear it.

The singer:

Lanza (1921-1959), the son of Italian emigrants, rose to become the only performer to have had Number 1’s in popular music, classical opera and film. During most of his film career, he suffered from overeating and alcohol abuse, which seriously impacted on his health and his relationships with directors, producers and other cast members. According to Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper: "his smile, which was as big as his voice, was matched with the habits of a tiger cub, impossible to housebreak".

Mario Lanza died in 1959 after undergoing a controversial weight loss program colloquially known as "the twilight sleep treatment," which required its patients to be kept immobile and sedated for prolonged periods. The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot which developed in his leg having travelled to his lungs.  He was 38.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some More Interesting Pics. . .


Christmas Countdown - Frank Kelly


Does anyone else hate listening to 12 Days of Christmas?

If so then you will enjoy Frank Kelly's take on it in his "Christmas Countdown".

Hear it at:
 It's best heard with the original Irish accent.

The lyrics/words are:

Day One
Dear Nuala,
Thank you very much for your lovely present of a partridge in a pear-tree. We’re getting the hang of feeding the partridge now, although it was difficult at first to win its confidence. It bit the mother rather badly on the hand but they’re good friends now and we’re keeping the pear-tree indoors in a bucket. Thank you again.
Yours affectionately,
Gobnait O’LĂșnasa