31 July 2007

Zen and the art of Dudeliness

'For me, the Dude has a certain type of wisdom. I like to call it the "Wisdom of Fingernails": the wisdom that gives you the ability to make your hair and fingernails grow, your heart beat, your bowels move. These are things that we know how to do, but we don't necessarily know how we know how to do them, yet still we do them very well. And that to me is very Dude. It's not like he's a know-it-all, the Dude. He's not a guy who has figured out the way to be or anything like that, but he is comfortable with what he's got, and, as the Stranger says, things turn out pretty well for him. I guess we can all take comfort in that because - who knows? - things may turn out pretty well for us, too'

- Jeff Bridges on The Big Lebowski, from the foreword to "I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski", quoted in Guardian, 27 July 2007

[Courtesy of Louwrens]

28 July 2007

Fair swap

'Dear USA. You have David and Victoria Beckham for the next five years. Would you please keep them? We had them here once and it was horrible. We've taken Madonna off your hands, so shall we call it square?  Yours, the Rest of the World'

24 July 2007

Contributing to moral decay in canine circles

'In 1955, Walt Disney was furious that his animated feature The Lady and the Tramp failed to garner even one nomination from the Academy. He blamed the Catholic church, which had come out strongly against the canine romance because it celebrated relations between an unmarried couple'

- The Observer Book of Film, 2007

18 July 2007

Okay, now you're creeping me out

"You have to look at why sex was created," Eric Love, the director of the East Texas Abstinence Program, which runs Virginity Rules, said one day, the sounds of Christian contemporary music humming faintly in his Longview office. "Sex was designed to bond two people together."

To make the point, Mr. Love grabbed a tape dispenser and snapped off two fresh pieces. He slapped them to his filing cabinet and the floor; they trapped dirt, lint, a small metal bolt. "Now when it comes time for them to get married, the marriage pulls apart so easily," he said, trying to unite the grimy strips. "Why? Because they gave the stickiness away"

- Abstinence education faces an uncertain future, New York Times, 18 July 2007

17 July 2007

On the rubbishness of Harry Potter

Nicholas Lezard, on the Harry Potter books by JK Rowling:

'...[F]or all that she is gifted enough in devising popular scenarios, the words on the page are flat. I think it was Verlaine who said that he could never write a novel because he would have to write, at some point, something like "the count walked into the drawing-room" - not a scruple that can have bothered JK Rowling, who is happy enough writing the most pedestrian descriptive prose.

Here, from page 324 of The Order of the Phoenix, to give you a typical example, are six consecutive descriptions of the way people speak. "...said Snape maliciously"; "... said Harry furiously", "... he said glumly", "... said Hermione severely", "... said Ron indignantly", "... said Hermione loftily". Do I need to explain why that is such second-rate writing?

If I do, then that means you're one of the many adults who don't have a problem with the retreat into infantilism that your willing immersion in the Potter books represents. It doesn't make you a bad or silly person. But if you have the patience to read it without noticing how plodding it is, then you are self-evidently someone on whom the possibilities of the English language are largely lost.

This is the kind of prose that reasonably intelligent nine-year-olds consider pretty hot stuff, if they're producing it themselves; for a highly-educated woman like Rowling to knock out the same kind of material is, shall we say, somewhat disappointing'

- Nicholas Lezard, Guardian Arts blog, 17 July 2007

Feeding baby: GOOD. Cat urine in hair: BAD

Parents 'played computer games as babies starved'

A couple in Reno, Nevada, have admitted child neglect after allegedly becoming so obsessed with online games that they left their babies to starve. The 22-month-old boy and an 11-month-old girl were severely malnourished and near death last month when social workers took them to hospital, authorities said. Both were doing well in foster care, prosecutor Kelli Ann Viloria told the Reno Gazette-Journal. Michael Straw, 25, and Iana Straw, 23, face up to 12 years in prison. Police said the girl's hair was matted with cat urine while her brother's lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking.
Associated Press in Reno, United States

16 July 2007

On literary critics

'I perused all the newspapers attentively. The Spectator and Athenaeum amused me. The critics of these papers are, I doubt not, acute men in their way - theirs is not the shallow weakness of The Observer and the Daily News. But when called on to criticise works of imagination, they stand in the position of deaf men required to listen to music, or blind men to judge a painting. The Practical their minds can grasp; of the Ideal, they know nothing'

- Charlotte Bronte, letter dated 9 November 1849, writing to her literary adviser William Smith Williams about the response to her new novel, Shirley

10 July 2007

Can we schedule a lift-meeting?

'There is a legendary story about a female newspaper editor who refused to travel with anyone else in the office lift in case they tried to talk to her.  (Janet Street Porter should remain nameless but are so few female newspaper editors that it is pretty obvious that it is she).  If anyone else tried to get into the lift she would simply shout, "Get out!"'
- Viv Groskop, British Airways Business Life, July 2007

So when you said you were lying, were you lying about that too?

A chap in Massachusetts tried to get out of jury duty by claiming he was 'homophobic, racist and a habitual liar'.  But the judge wasn't very impressed.  Here's the transcript of his interview with the superior court judge, Gary Nickerson:
"You say on your form that you're not a fan of homosexuals," Nickerson said.

"That I'm a racist," Ellis interrupted.

"I'm frequently found to be a liar, too. I can't really help it," Ellis added.

"I'm sorry?" Nickerson said.

"I said I'm frequently found to be a liar," Ellis replied.

"So, are you lying to me now?" Nickerson asked.

"Well, I don't know. I might be," was the response.

Ellis then admitted he really didn't want to serve on a jury.

"I have the distinct impression that you're intentionally trying to avoid jury service," Nickerson said.

"That's true," Ellis answered.

So can we clear this up - is honesty the best policy or not?

- CNN, 10 July 2007, via Fark.com