Wednesday, February 25, 2004

A song remembered, a song found
This isn't any old song. Although it is old. A fragment of it was sung by Francis in Donna Tartt's The Secret History.

We're poor little lambs who've lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
Little black sheep who've gone astray,
Gentlemen songsters out on a spree,
Doomed from here to Eternity...

and that's where I remember it from. That's where I first saw it. When I read it I thought it might be one of those old tunes you hear about gentlemen singing, in the Glee Clubs of old. And then, when I was listening through the archives of The Writer's Almanac (Garrison Keillor, wonderful voice!) earlier today, I found a snatch of it. And poked around a bit.

It's called... wait for it... The Whiffenpoof Song. The Whiffenpoofs are a group of male singers in Yale University, USA. They have a history. They also have a constitution, an unwritten part of which seems to be that a member is forbidden to take part in sporting activities of any kind.

What larks!

Monday, February 23, 2004

But what destructive snow it is. Nova Scotia put Halifax under curfew a few days ago because a *massive* snowstorm had hit. Photo gallery here, and another photo which gives you some idea of just how big a storm it was is here.
Vroom vroom
County map
I've visited the counties in yellow.
Which counties have you visited?

made by marnanel
map reproduced from Ordnance Survey map data
by permission of the Ordnance Survey.
© Crown copyright 2001.

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Sunday night blues
I'm probably just getting tired and grouchy. But I just had this conversation online with a friend:

pete: I just want... it's not even the wage. I just feel rather worthless right now. I'm making no impact on... anything right now. It's like I don't exist. :oS And if I get a job that I sort of like even sometimes, I can feel like I'm doing something. You know? [whimper]
friend: awww, babe, well, I know you exist :) I know that doesn't mean much, but we can't always make much of an impression on life, just keep going and wait till we do. You can't let it get you down, if you do you'll go into a nasty psychological downward spiral
pete: But... OK, example. I had 2 people at my 'birthday party' last night. They were brilliant. It was great to have them there. One of those was there because he was visiting me anyway, and the other was there because he left for Edinburgh today and had to say goodbye. Neither of them were from my 'core' group of friends here. Those friends didn't turn up. And we'd planned to do things. If, as I find out later, they don't turn up because they didn't want to be in a crowded bar with people smoking and shouting etc. etc., what does that say about the impact I'm even making with my own friends?! I mean, if my personality can't make them want to overcome their lack of appetite for a bar on my birthday, I'm just drifting through life not making an impact on anyone, aren't I?

Thursday, February 19, 2004

What a weird hotel! // There's a variation on the Locked Room mystery called the Crimson Room. Try to escape from it. It'll drive you nuts, I promise. // Design your own face. // Leaves Rustle - brilliant name for a blog. // Check out mono - I've only had a chance to look at the art, culture and design category but it looks rich and varied so far. // His best friend got married. // This person hates Coriander, but is obviously wrong to do so because it's really nice. // This person is deep on the surface which is an exception.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Flashy Egyptian site
The Theban Mapping Project is so much more than an online map collection. This flash-enriched site deals with the history, development and current condition - in mindboggling and user-friendly detail - of the Valley of the Kings in Thebes, the arid wasteland where the monarchs of Ancient Egypt lived, died and were buried. Tutankhamun,

You can view an extremely high-res aerial photo of the area, or a 3D perspective view, complete with 'invisible soil' so that you can see the layout of all the royal tombs beneath. Click on the tomb, and suddenly you're zooming up to and into it, and one side of your screen erupts with photos and info. As well as being extremely detailed it's also a great demonstration of what flash can do. Go there at once! *points* Now! :o)

And more. The ills of the BBC cogently explored, a brilliant article on the enduring nature of the best in human accomplishment, and why Google has changed our lives.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Jesus Christ, I'll be 26... 5 days. :oS So the list that follows can be a guide for any of you, *if* any of you were thinking of birthday presents. ;oD (If anyone does decide to get me anything from it, please comment anonymously using the "discuss?" link, so that if more than one person buys stuff, they won't duplicate and waste their money. I promise I won't peek.)

- Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester; HarperCollins Hardback edition; ISBN 0066212855.
- Sweelinck - Organ Works played by Christopher Herrick; Hyperion CD; Amazon ASIN B0000AE7AX
- The Sacrifice by Andrei Tarkovsky; DVD; Amazon ASIN B00006SKU4
- Triodion by Arvo P?rt; Hyperion CD; Amazon ASIN B0000ARNEZ (I've been told to strike this one!)
- Wild Strawberries by Ingmar Bergman; DVD; Amazon ASIN B00005V4WT
- The Confident Hope of a Miracle: The Real History of the Spanish Armada by Neil Hanson; Doubleday Hardback edition; ISBN 0385604513
- Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros; Fat Cat CD; Amazon ASIN B00004W3MS
- The Secret Life of Oscar Wilde by Neil McKenna; Century Hardback edition; ISBN 0712669868

.........and, pushing the boat out, maybe if 2 people wanted to club together.........
- The West Wing Complete Series 1 & 2 on Warner DVD - Amazon sells it at ?35; ASIN B0000TFG8C

If you aren't sure, don't feel obliged: this list is also something you might want to dip into yourself sometime. There are 3 books, 3 CDs, 3 DVDs, so it's quite varied. Either let me enjoy and blog about it, or keep it in mind for your own future enjoyment. :o)

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Shamelessly, I'm jumping on a little bandwagon that is trundling through the web, in honour of Moleskine. This company produces the most divine of scribbleworthy objects: wellmade notebooks. Small and large, ruled, squared, plain, thin paper, thick paper. Held closed with elastic grips. A little pocket in the back cover for those bits of paper you could never leave on the coffeeshop table / desk / toilet floor.

Here's a dedicated Moleskinerie blog, and an interview with a man who moleskines on the New York subway, and scans of the results.

Metafilter dealt with Moleskine a while ago (it's down at the time of posting, but hopefully will be online again sometime soon) and as for me, I've been using mine for years, in the way documented in this photo.

If you write, and if your notebook is not a fetish but a tool, buy one. And don't forget the pen.
Remembering my peripatetic post of the other day, I remembered I'd also bookmarked a site called Flâneur, so went and visited it to find that there's a poem set in Belfast there. Here it is. (The site, by the way, also has an excellent selection of photos in the 'artwork' category.)

Been looking at stuff about the Moulin Rouge, because last night at Josh's place we watched the eponymous film straight through (after watching The Good Girl beforehand, so it was a late night) and it piqued my interest. Firstly, I found a Toulouse-Lautrec poster for the club. The poster bills a woman called 'La Goulue' (in english, glutton) who was one of the club's stars and who was known for draining glass after glass, hence her nickname.

Toulouse-Lautrec really was a midget as he's portrayed in the film, and drank absinthe like a fish to fit into the bohemian life of Montmartre, as well as to cope with the hurt of people making fun of him because of his stature. He made lithographs, prints, and paintings of the nightlife, exemplified by his work for the Moulin Rouge. His actual portraits of people could be disarmingly frank, as this one of La Goulue shows. In the posters she's a dignified beauty; in the portrait she's a squinting woman who looks a bit too much up her own arse for comfort.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Candidate for Russian Presidency claims kidnapping, drugging, and worse
Ivan Rybkin, whose disappearance I blogged earlier in the week, has said he was kidnapped and drugged by armed Russians. He alleged that on waking up, he was shown a 'perverted' video of other people and his unconscious body.

He's in London right now and says he will stay there until after polling closes, making his free-airtime candidacy broadcasts to Russian TV from the UK.

Hardly surprising, really, if what he says is true! Pravda produces a skewed report. And that's hardly surprising, either.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Valentine's Kiss...
Extracted from The Art of Kissing (1936) by Hugh Morris. Nicked from the Guardian.

Approved methods of kissing

A man must be able to sweep a woman into his strong arms, tower over her, look down into her eyes, cup her chin in his fingers, and then bend over her face and plant his eager, virile lips on her moist, slightly parted, inviting ones. All of these are impossible where the woman is the taller of the two. When the situation is reversed, the kiss becomes a ludicrous banality.

Preparing for the kiss

The breath should be kept always sweet and pure so that, when the lips are opened, the breath will be like an aromatic breeze. Sometimes it is advisable to touch the corners of the mouth with perfume. The teeth should be kept cleaned and polished. Nothing can dampen a young man's ardour, or a young woman's, for that matter, than a row of brown-stained, unkempt teeth.

How to approach a girl

In kissing a girl whose experience with osculation is limited, it is a good thing to work up to the kissing of the lips. Only an arrant fool seizes hold of such a girl, shoves his face into hers and smacks her lips. Hold her gently but firmly and allay her fears with kind, reassuring words. Your next step is to flatter her in some way. All women like to be flattered. They like to be told they are beautiful even when the mirror throws the lie back into their ugly faces.

The French "soul" kiss

There is more to your tongue than its tip. Probe further. Gently caress each other's tongues. For, in doing this, you are merging your souls. That is why this kiss was called the "soul" kiss by the French, who were said to be the first people to have perfected it. It is because of the fact that they dropped Puritanism many years ago that the French were able to perfect themselves in the art of love and, particularly, of kissing.

The "vacuum" kiss

Open your mouth a trifle, then indicate to your partner that you wish her to do likewise. Then instead of caressing her mouth, suck inward as though you were trying to draw out the innards of an orange. If she knows of this kiss variation your maid will act in the same way and withdraw the air from your mouth. In a short while, the air will have been entirely drawn out of your mouths. Your lips will adhere so tightly that there will almost be pain, instead of pleasure. But it will be highly pleasurable pain.

Electric kissing parties

Some few years ago, a peculiar kissing custom arose which deserves mention here. An excerpt from a contemporary writer will, perhaps, give us some idea of what happened.

"The ladies and gentlemen range themselves about the room. The ladies select a partner, and together they shuffle about on the carpet until they are charged with electricity , the lights in the room having been turned low. Then they kiss in the dark; and make the sparks fly for the amusement of the onlookers."

In time, you will become so inured to the slight shock that you will seek more potent shocks. These can be obtained with the use of any device worked from a battery and a coil which steps up the weak three volts of the battery.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The Ring, and others
Here's a brilliant analysis of The Ring, by Matthew Sharpe. Don't let the word 'analysis' put you off: this gets you clued in to why you were scared. If you were scared at all, that is. But I know I was.

Here are some more film links. News of movies soon in the making. A scholarly journal. A pop journal. A film and pop culture journal. An eclectic journal. A philosophical journal.
Google: fake holidays
Thoise Farkers have been messing with Google's logo! Some grinworthy work.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

New writing
An experiment for tonight. I wrote this poem today, and if you have a critical (or otherwise) opinion please comment. Thanks. :o)
They're all so cruel!
All those people who are so nasty to Michael Jackson!
When's a gay man not gay?
When he's a homosexual genderqueer heteroflexible polygendered queerboi.
Every time I look through the referrer logs, I'm struck by just how many people are drawn to this site because they've done a google search for a misspelled word. They haven't wanted to end up here; rather, they've been looking for the word 'peripatetic' which is actually a 'real' word, rather than peripathetic, which I made up myself.

Peripatetic: ever-moving. Continually shifting around. Often used in context: for example, a peripatetic teacher is essentially freelance, part of a teaching pool, and moves from school to school when required.

For me, the meaning of peripatetic is associated with the actions of the flâneur, a character who wanders around looking at everything, observing, commenting but ultimately not sacrificing his objectivity, his unique view. Staying quiet: being at once inside and outside the experience itself.

It seemed fitting, in choosing the title of a blog, after all, that my wandering mind should create a blog based on wandering around and looking. It's an interesting word. I like it. But it was too much its own word, too tied-down. I decided to modify it. I feel down at times, but I'm still moving. And this blog is my first ever experience with html, and my efforts are pathetic in comparison to those of others.

Hence peripathetic, this blog.

To all those google searchers out there, it's a made-up word! You're misspelling what you're actually looking for, and getting a whole list of sites which perpetuate this misspelling!

Although, thanks for the traffic. ;o) :oD

Monday, February 09, 2004

New mass - Bush - Where's the other candidate gone?
No, not an interstellar mass of gas and dust. (I heard an interesting programme on Radio 4 this morning about sound waves in gaseous areas of space. Apparently some of them have reverberations of one cycle every 50 years. Several hundred octaves below middle C, apparently. Weird.) Ahem. Yes. Not an interstellar mass of gas and dust. Although 'gas and dust' is what many people think of when they hear the word 'mass', this one promises to be exciting and, perhaps, a crowd-pleaser. There's certainly enough space for quite a crowd to gather in the building concerned: Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral, for whose centenary John Tavener has written Atma Mass. The 12-second reverberation should help things along quite nicely. Get there on the 19th of July. Fingers crossed it's not the early mass, though. :o)

Over the pond, Bush has been defending his military record (not the recent one - that's indefensible) on live TV. Apparently he went AWOL. For a year. It's really no deal at all for his presidential hopes, but it's funny that the man who said he did his duty can't explain why he wasn't on base for a year.

In Russia, where there will shortly be an election, one of President Putin's chief rivals has disappeared.He's been missing since Thursday. Presumed, by yours truly, kidnapped or murdered. Cynical me, but I can't help feeling that the police will look for him for a while and then sigh "It's useless" while gesturing with a weary hand in the direction of the Kremlin. A statement of sympathy will be issued by the Kremlin. And then his body will be found hanging from a ceiling-hook in a completely empty room, with a note below his dangling feet saying "I hung myself by levitating to this hook. It wasn't the Kremlin". The Guardian comments: The timing of Mr Rybkin's disappearance has led some to link it to his campaign. REEEally? Nooooo.....!

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

An article about medical students' first few encounters with a human cadaver. This is the most wonderfully gentle and well-written article I've yet read on the subject.