Freebie Tip: Funny People in Canada, Mocking the US
Posted 3 Days Ago
I've just watched a quite good show hosted by John Oliver a few years ago, called 'Decline of the American Empire'. Rather sensibly, they filmed it in Montreal for a Canadian audience. It was probably safer than doing it in New York City.
That's the first segment. If Youtube behaves itself, you should get the other four segments naturally.
The jokes are funny, and won't insult your intelligence. Some of the Brit jokes are pretty good, too - like the Irish American comic's explanation of the British Empire. That comes near the end.
Political humour should do two things, in my opinion: make you laugh, and make you think. This does both without making you want to go out and start an argument with anyone else.
Oh, and by the way: we thank the UK for sending us John Oliver. He's a blessing these days, and I'm counting on him to explain such complex international figures as Erdogan:
Stay to the end of that one - Oliver refuses ever to discuss Turkish politics without showing that rodeo clip.
Anyway, enjoy your weekend!
Have You Listened to Any Time Travellers Today?
Posted 5 Days Ago
Remember, Robbie's on the radio today with Douglas Adams in the series 'Unforgettable'. Here's the link:
It's a kind of magical time-travel act in which Robbie has a conversation with DNA via recordings in the BBC archives. I am in awe, and a little sad that the two friends can't have that conversation, right now, for real.
Since we watched the movie 'Dimensions' last night, I've been thinking of time travel a lot... That movie's a must-watch, by the way. A different (and philosophically intriguing) take on the idea of time travel.
Warning: the 'time machine' probably didn't break the budget.)
If you have any time travel experiences this week, let us know. (And take pics, like FWR's doing. He's already done two crazy things with a hat I knitted.)
Zucchini Does Not Remain Orphaned
Posted Last Week
According to the interwebs, Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Day is 8 August. But that's a bit premature in our area. The zucchini (courgette) crop wasn't ready yet. Today, however, as I arrived at the church to indulge in some organ practice, I saw a basketful of the much-maligned fruit on the ecclesiastical side porch. I went in and practiced for a couple of hours, making joyful pipe noises.
I love playing buildings like that.
On the way out, I noticed evidence of zucchini-related activity. The basket was missing. In its place was a note, held down by a rock. The note said, 'Thanks for the zucchini. The basket will be returned.'
Stray produce always finds a home.
An 1890s Unitarian Complains About That Vulgarian, Jesus
Posted Last Week
Hot Tips of the Day:
I'm enjoying a binge watch of Simcha Jacobovici's television series 'The Naked Archeologist'. Jacobovici is an Israeli-born Canadian filmmaker. He's hugely funny and quite informative on the latest trends, scandals, and controversies in Biblical archaeology. Watching him egg his skinny cameraman on to sneak past an official lock and invade the ancient mikveh possibly belonging to John the Baptist was just priceless. His search for 'biblical cows' is also a must-see. Find him on Amazon Prime, or just look around. Warning: as a friend said, 'When it comes to Simcha, it's just one outrage after another.'
All this talk of biblical archaeology led me, the way things do, to be noodling around this morning trying to find out more about lost gospels. You know, the ones we knew were there because the canonical people quoted them, but couldn't find because some censor disapproved for one reason or another, and started purging the libraries.
Here's a good one: a fragment of the Gospel of Peter, which they found in Egypt in 1884. It's translated and commented by MR James. Yes, *that* MR James. James was the Edgar Allan Poe of manuscript scholars.
I was interested in the account of the resurrection from the POV of Petronius' terrified soldiers. It has a great sort of X-Files vibe, don't you think?
Trying to find out more caused me to stumble across a book in the internet archive. The kind that's so bad it's good. It's an 1893 tome called 'The Safe Side', and it's written by a very prejudiced, stuffy, middle-class white Unitarian named Richard M Mitchell who finds the whole idea of Christianity very vulgar and disgusting and not for respectable people who are worried about property values.
Here's a good bit:
'That book [i.e., the objectionable New Testament] exposes, what must necessarily have been the case, that there were depredations upon other people's property. Such a body also would naturally draw in the vicious class, whose greater depredations would contribute to Christ's unpopularity. But many, if not all, of those followers would look lightly upon the rights of others when the possession of property was to be of short duration. The frequent tirades against the rich in the New Testament indicate the spirit that actuated them.'
In other words, this writer objects to Jesus because he and his followers were not 'the right sort of people'. This might be termed the Hyacinth Bucket form of agnosticism.
By the way, 'the safe side' of the title refers to the author's version of Pascal's Wager. Mitchell seems to think it's safer to ignore this dangerously low-class type of religion than to risk offending his idea of God, who appears to be a Social Darwinist.
I thought you might enjoy taking a look at this marvelous work. It gave me a giggle or two.
The Train of Thought Passes Through Some Peculiar Landscape
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
Here's my 6 August train of thought:
This morning, I had a weird dream. I and some unidentified companions were exploring a pocket universe we found behind a door at what looked like a big and otherwise empty hangar. The pocket world had sunlight, lots of water, a jetty, boats: strange creatures that looked like electronic devices kept jumping up like Asian flying carp. I batted them away. We went back out the door, only to be accosted by security people, who took us to a control room where a nerd was presiding over a roomful of computer monitors.
'How did you get into my universe?' he demanded. We shrugged. He didn't seem to care, really, but he wanted to know, 'What's it like? I haven't been able to get anyone in there to tell me about it.'
My mental wake-up radio was playing 'There's a New World Coming' as I rolled out of bed, accompanied by frisky miniature dog.
The Gheorgheni Wildlife Sanctuary is going great guns. The birds are all over that new bird feeder that looks like a red barn. They are peaceable, too, even the bluejays, a whole family of them. The little birds also get seeds from the small feeder hanging on the porch, and they all go for the Suet Cow that hangs there, too.
The new thing is the hummingbird feeder. It has sugar water in it, which hummingbirds like. They hover like bright helicopters, dancing in the air while they stick their long beaks into the tiny holes that have little yellow plastic 'flowers' around them. Apparently, to feed hummingbirds, you have to mimic the natural experience, but not too realistically.
The birds are all over the porch, even as we sit there. Chippie the chipmunk dashes around our feet, flashing his sporty racing stripes among the potted petunias. This is much more fun than the cinema, so no wonder we're glad to be home on a Saturday morning.
The birds and small mammal brigade all seem to be wearing their most purposeful clothes. Everybody's dressed for success, one way or another.
Which led me to thinking about the video I'd just seen, of Stephen Colbert talking (and dueling) with an Olympic fencer from the US:
The bit was very funny, and my first thought about the chat show host was, 'Aw, cheater! I'll bet you took Stage Combat 101 at uni. No way you just did that, I've had fencing lessons, too, you know.' After all, the last movie fencer who *didn't* have prior training was the astounding Danny Kaye, and Basil Rathbone said he was surprised at how good Kaye was:
My Yiddish professor in Pittsburgh used to go to Danny Kaye's high school in New York City. She said he was Danny Kaminski back then, and he got thrown out of school. Why, I asked. 'You know what he does in movies? He did that in school, too.'
But my next thought was admiration for Ibtihaj Muhammad, and not just for her fencing. She's showing people that the hijab is a choice, and it can be feminist. A hijab's not a chador or burqa. A hijab is dressing like the ancient Persians: nothing but the face and hands showing. It's saying, 'Who says you get to stare at me and judge me for my fashion sense, weight, hairstyle, and other ephemera? You get to look at what I choose to show: my facial expression and my actions. Get over it.'
A hijab allows women to separate public and private worlds on their own terms. Men ought to try it, too. It might improve the landscape, especially in the summertime. (If that middle-aged guy thinks he looks hot in those baggy cargo shorts, he's deluded...)
And yeah, she's a great fencer and a brave woman to go down to Rio. I'd be worried about thieves, bugs, pollution, you name it. I hope she wins something.
The train of thought has arrived at the station of lunch. Next stop, cheese and crackers.
Go punch your own ticket on the train of thought. But remember: there's a new world coming, the song said so: