Thursday, August 30, 2012

Funny Friday

My father in law, Noel, provided me with another joke for Funny Friday.  Although he is in his mid eighties, he likes to say that there may be snow on the roof but there is still fire in the basement.  Noel prefaced his telling the joke to me by apologising for it being clean. 
An elderly couple had dinner at another couple's house, and after eating, the wives left the table and went into the kitchen. The two elderly gentlemen were talking, and one said, "Last night we went out to a new restaurant, and it was really great. I would recommend it very highly."
The other man said, "What is the name of the restaurant?"
The first man thought and thought and finally said, "What is the name of that flower you give to someone you love? You know... the one that is red and has thorns."
"Do you mean a rose?"
"Yes," the man said. He turned toward the kitchen and yelled, "Rose, what's the name of that restaurant we went to last night?"
Some others on a similar theme . . .

Three ladies were discussing the travails of getting older. One said, "Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand, while standing in front of the refrigerator, and I can't remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich." 

The second lady chimed in with, "Yes, sometimes I find myself on the landing of the stairs and can't remember whether I was on my way up or on my way down." 

The third one responded, " Well, ladies, I'm glad I don't have that problem. Knock on wood," as she rapped her knuckles on the table, and then said, "That must be the door, I'll get it!"
 A group of 40 year-old buddies were discussing where they should go for dinner. Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Glowing Embers Restaurant because the waitresses there are young, shapely, and beautiful.

10 years later, at 50 years of age, the group discusses again where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Glowing Embers because the food there is very good and the wine selection is good also.

10 years later at 60 years of age, the group discusses again where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Glowing Embers because they can eat there in peace and quiet and the restaurant is smoke free.

10 years later, at 70 years of age, the group discusses again where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Glowing Embers because the restaurant is wheelchair accessible and they have an elevator.

10 years later, at 80 years of age, the group discusses again where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Glowing Embers because they have never been there before.
Corn corner:
I woke up last night to find the ghost of Gloria Gaynor standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid.......then I was petrified.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Origins: "Piss or get off the pot"

“Piss or get off the pot” 

The above phrase, meaning to cease procrastinating and do something (and, in some cases, to stop preventing others from taking action), is a derivation of the phrase “shit or get off the pot”.  It is believed to date from the days when there was no indoor plumbing and when a chamber pot (also known as a “po” and a “gazunder”) was used for urination and defecation. 

That phrase is believed to have developed from the older expression “fish or cut bait”, meaning do something productive or get out of the way and do something else so as to let others have a go.  The phrase originated in the US in the mid 19th century. 

A succinct comment to the same effect, by Thomas Paine (1737 – 1809):

 "For six years that man has given me unsolicited advice—all of it bad. I was particularly offended by his comment to 'shit or get off the pot' in reference to my delay in calling for action in the Boston police strike." 

-       US President Calvin Coolidge,
 commenting on his successor Herbert Hoover.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Great Moments in Parenting


The following article is from the online Daily Mail and is worthy of a reprint.  Read it at:

Baby taking up too much room? Try this solution from the 1930s... a window CAGE hanging in the air for your infant to crawl in

By Anthony Bond

They were designed in a more innocent age and with the best of intentions. 

But it's difficult to see these baby cages getting past the eye of officious council chiefs today. And it's perhaps for the best. 

These incredible pictures taken in the 1930s show babies suspended high up in flats from their parents' window.

Shocking: These astonishing baby cages were invented in America in 1922. This picture taken in 1934 shows a wire cage which East Poplar borough council in London proposed to fix to the outside of their buildings 

Sitting in open mesh cages, the youngsters were completely exposed to the elements outside. 

Incredibly, the then East Poplar borough council in London proposed to fix the cages to the outside of some of their buildings so that babies could benefit from fresh air and sunshine. 

The cages were also distributed to members of the Chelsea Baby Club who lived in high buildings and had no gardens. 

The idea behind the cages was patented in America in 1922 as a means to help parents living in cities who didn't have much space.

 Bizarre: A nanny is pictured supervising a baby suspended in a wire cage attached to the outside of a flat window in Chelsea, 1937. The benefits were said to include fresh air for the child, room to play with toys and another place for children to sleep

Odd: It's difficult to see these baby cages getting past the eye of officious council chiefs today, and perhaps that is for the best

The benefits were said to be fresh air for the child, room to play with toys and another place for children to sleep.

The patent was filed in 1922 by Emma Read, from Washington, and was granted the following year.

According to The Northern Star, the description of the patent, said: 'It is well known that a great many difficulties rise in raising, and properly housing babies and small children in crowded cities, that is to say from the health viewpoint.

'With these facts in view, it is the purpose of this invention to provide an article of manufacture for babies and young children, to be suspended upon the exterior of a building adjacent an open window, wherein the baby or young child may be placed.'

The cages in the patent were also designed with a slanted, overlapping roof which was said to protect babies from snow or rain.

Anecdote: Juliet Prowse / Charles Boyer

Bernie Koppel (above), who played the doctor on The Love Boat and who is in Oz, was interviewed on Weekend Sunrise. He told a Juliet Prowse / Charles Boyer (below) anecdote which I looked up and I came across Bernie telling the same anecdote in an interview posted earlier this year on the web site Bullz-Eye:
Bullz-Eye:  A quick “Love Boat” question. Who were some of your favorite guest stars that you worked with?

Bernie Koppel: Oh, my goodness. Well, right off the bat, I think of Juliet Prowse, with the most gorgeous legs and body that anybody ever dreamt of. We had scenes in bed together.  And I know that she had gone with Sinatra, and I was thinking, “I…I just don’t know if I’ll be able to speak…I hope my hairpiece doesn’t fall off…I’m just so nervous.” So just before this scene, maybe to loosen me up, she said, “You know, Charles Boyer had a scene like this, with a lovely leading lady in bed, and just before the scene, he said, ‘You know, sweetheart, if possibly I get – how do you say – aroused during the scene, forgive me, please.’ And then he said, ‘If possibly I don’t get aroused, forgive me please.”

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Quote/Extract: Winston Churchill

Book cover

In Winston Churchill’s 1930 autobiography “My Early Life”, which deals with the years 1874-1902, Churchill wrote of his difficulties at school.  Here is an extract:

I had scarcely passed my twelfth birthday when I entered the inhospitable regions of examinations, through which for the next seven years I was destined to journey. These examinations were a great trial to me. The subjects which were dearest to the examiners were almost invariably those I fancied least. I would have liked to have been examined in history, poetry and writing essays. The examiners, on the other hand, were partial to Latin and mathematics. And their will prevailed. Moreover, the questions which they asked on both these subjects were almost invariably those to which I was unable to suggest a satisfactory answer. I should have liked to be asked to say what I knew. They always tried to ask what I did not know. When I would have willingly displayed my knowledge, they sought to expose my ignorance. This sort of treatment had only one result: I did not do well in examinations.

This was especially true of my Entrance Examination to Harrow. The Headmaster, Mr. Welldon, however, took a broad-minded view of my Latin prose: he showed discernment in judging my general ability. This was the more remarkable, because I was found unable to answer a single question in the Latin paper. I wrote my name at the top of the page. I wrote down the number of the question " I." After much reflection I put a bracket round it thus "(I)." But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true. Incidentally there arrived from nowhere in particular a blot and several smudges. I gazed for two whole hours at this sad spectacle and then merciful ushers collected my piece of foolscap with all the others and carried it up to the Headmaster's table. It was from these slender indications of scholarship that Mr. Welldon drew the conclusion that I was worthy to pass into Harrow. It is very much to his credit. It showed that he was a man capable of looking beneath the surface of things: a man not dependent upon paper manifestations. I have always had the greatest regard for him.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Song Spot: Waterloo Sunset


So what moments from the London Olympics closing ceremony remained in your memory afterwards?

One of them for me was Ray Davies singing Waterloo Sunset, a song that I found myself humming and whistling for days afterwards.  Despite Davies’ shaky beginning and his difficulty with some of the notes, it was an enjoyable performance of a song symbolic of 1960’s London.

Some trivia: 

The Olympics Police zealously guard all things Olympic so if you do find a clip on You Tube, it won’t be there for long.  Here is a link to Ray Davies performing it at the 2010 Glastonbury Festival:

1960’s clip:.

Apparently NBC, broadcasting the ceremony in the US, cut the Davies’ song from its telecast.  The network cut out performances by Ray Davies, The Who and Muse for an hour-long preview of Animal Practice.

The lyrics:

Dirty old river, must you keep rolling
Flowing into the night
People so busy, makes me feel dizzy
Taxi light shines so bright
But I don't need no friends
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine

Terry meets Julie, Waterloo Station
Every Friday night
But I am so lazy, don't want to wander
I stay at home at night
But I don't feel afraid
As long as I gaze on Waterloo sunset
I am in paradise

Every day I look at the world from my window
But chilly, chilly is the evening time
Waterloo sunset's fine

Millions of people swarming like flies 'round Waterloo underground
But Terry and Julie cross over the river
Where they feel safe and sound
And they don't need no friends
As long as they gaze on Waterloo sunset
They are in paradise

Waterloo sunset's fine

The person singing is either watching, or imagining watching, two lovers, Terry and Julie, passing over a bridge.  It was speculated at the time that the lovers were Terence Stamp and Julie Christie, stars of the 1967 flick Far from the Madding Crowd. 

Ray Davies wrote, produced and sings the song.  In a 2008 interview he denied that the lovers were Terence Stamp and Julie Christie:   “It was a fantasy about my sister going off with her boyfriend to a new world and they were going to emigrate and go to another country.”

In a 2010  interview he has said that Terry was his nephew, with whom he was close during adolescence.

Ray Davies in a 2009 interview:  "It came to me first as a statement about the death of Merseybeat. But I realized that Waterloo was a very significant place in my life. I was in St. Thomas' Hospital when I was really ill as a child, and I looked out on the river. I went to Waterloo every day to go to college as well. The song was also about being taken to the Festival of Britain with my mum and dad. I remember them taking me by the hand, looking at the big Skylon tower, and saying it symbolized the future. That, and then walking by the Thames with my first wife (Rasa, who left Ray, taking his two daughters, in 1973) and all the other dreams that we had. Her in her brown suede coat that she wore, that was stolen. And also about my sisters, and about the world I wanted them to have. The two characters in the song, Terry and Julie, are to do with the aspirations of my sisters' generation, who grew up during the Second world War and missed out on the '60s.  Sometimes when you're writing and you're really on good form, you get into the frame of mind where you think, I can relate to any of these things. It's something I learned at art school-let all the ideas flow out. But if you listen to the words without the music, it's a different thing entirely. The lyrics could be better. But they dovetail with the music perfectly."

2010 interview:  “Liverpool is my favourite city, and the song was originally called Liverpool Sunset.  I was inspired by Merseybeat. I'd fallen in love with Liverpool by that point. On every tour, that was the best reception. We played The Cavern, all those old places, and I couldn't get enough of it. I had a load of mates in bands up there, and that sound – not The Beatles but Merseybeat – that was unbelievable. It used to inspire me every time.  So I wrote Liverpool Sunset. Later it got changed to Waterloo Sunset, but there's still that play on words with Waterloo.”

The song was released as a single in 1967.

A London FM radio poll in 2004 named this the "Greatest Song About London", while Time Out named it the "Anthem of London". It holds spot #42 on Rolling Stone’s's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Pete Townshend of The Who has called it "divine" and "a masterpiece".

Davies is also the author of You Really Got Me, All Day And All Of The Night, Dedicated Follower Of Fashion, Sunny Afternoon, Days, The Village Green Preservation Society and Lola.  He has also composed musicals, acted, directed and produced shows for theatre and television.

And now it’s going around in my head again.

C’mon. . .  sha la la . . .

Friday, August 24, 2012

Footnotes to History: Ron L Ziegler


"This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative."

-       Ron Ziegler

When working in the office recently I gave some facts in a matter to my son.  He said to me that those facts were different to the facts that I had previously given him.  I replied that these facts were the operative facts; the others were inoperative.  In making that comment, I was facetiously paraphrasing Ron Ziegler, a man unknown to my son but a true footnote to history.

Ronald Louis "Ron" Ziegler (1939 – 2003) was White House Press Secretary and Assistant to the President during the administration of President Richard Nixon between 1969 and 1974.

When Ziegler became White House Press Secretary in 1969 at age 29, he was the youngest Press Secretary in history.  From 1974 he was also Assistant to the President.

Fiercely loyal to Nixon to the end, he became a buffer between the President and a hostile press corps as the developing Watergate scandal began to bite deeper, eventually reaching into the White House and ultimately even the Oval Office itself.  In that time Ziegler became the public face of the embattled Nixon administration and a source of public and journalistic bemusement, his befuddled speaking style and constant changes earning him the nick name of “Zig-Zag”.  One magazine called his style of speech “Zieglerrata”.

There is no doubt that he was tarnished by his loyalty to Nixon, that he became the focus of anti-Nixon hostility and that his abilities were overshadowed by his defence of the Nixon administration during Watergate.  According Gerald Warren, a former deputy press secretary under Presidents Nixon and Ford: "I think he was placed in an awkward position as a young man. ... It wasn't easy for him, but he did his best and he was very loyal.  I don't think he ever showed the great promise that he had, I wish that he had been able to tell his story to the world."

Some Zieglerisms:

"This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative."
        April 17, 1973, retracting previous statements that had been revealed to be false.

According to The Guardian, reporting the death of Ron Ziegler in 2003:

During his career as US President Richard Nixon's press secretary, Ron Ziegler, who has died after a heart attack aged 63, delivered thousands of White House statements. But the only one that reverberates down the years came on April 17 1973, and consisted of two short sentences: "This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative."

This pronouncement signalled the first breach in the wall of lies and evasions that the Nixon administration had erected around the break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic national committee in June 1972. After months of press revelations and congressional investigation of official corruption, the president had finally given in, ordering his staff to give evidence to the US senate and lifting their immunity from prosecution. In response, his press secretary simply junked all his previous statements on the issue.

"Certain elements may try to stretch the Watergate burglary beyond what it is."
        1972, referring to Washington Post reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

'I think we would all have to say, and I would be, I think, remiss if I did not say, that mistakes were made during this period in terms of comments that were made, perhaps. I would say that I was overenthusiastic at the time in my comments about The Post, particularly if you look at it in the context of the developments that have taken place. In thinking of it at this point in time, yes, I would apologize to The Post. . . . When we're wrong, we're wrong.''
-       May 1, 1973, the day after H. R. Haldeman, the White House chief of staff, and John D. Ehrlichman, the chief domestic policy adviser, resigned over Watergate, when Ziegler was asked whether he would apologise to The Post.
When he started to add, ''But . . .'' a reporter called out, ''Don't take it back, Ron!''

"If my answers sound confusing, I think they are confusing because the questions are confusing and the situation is confusing."

"The president is aware of what is going on in Southeast Asia. That is not to say that there is anything going on in Southeast Asia."
        1971, answering a question whether allied troops were preparing to invade Laos.

''I would feel that most of the conversations that took place in those areas of the White House that did have the recording system would, in almost their entirety, be in existence, but the special prosecutor, the court, and, I think, the American people are sufficiently familiar with the recording system to know where the recording devices existed, and to know the situation in terms of the recording process, but I feel, although the process has not been undertaken yet in preparation of the material to abide by the court decision, really, what the answer to that question is.''
-       1974, a statement by Ziegler on the safeguarding of the White House tapes, winning an award from the Committee on Public Doublespeak of the National Council of Teachers of English.

"Devoted service to the cause of peaceful progress in an orderly world (which) will remain as an example for free men everywhere.”
- 1970, in reference to the career of CIA security adviser Dan Mitrione, killed in Uruguay, whose promotion of torture later became substantiated.

Ziegler with Elvis Presley, 1971, at a meeting of the US Jaycees Congress of Ten Outstanding Young Men.  Presley and Ziegler were two of the honourees.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Funny Friday


My father in law, Noel, relayed an item that he thought might be suitable for a Funny Friday post.  Noel sets the bar high in both humour and class.  I have revised the joke to make it printable (as I have also done with a couple of the ones below).  It is the first of the following items and it also sets the theme for this week’s Funny Friday: thermometers. . . 

A redneck comes home unexpectedly and finds the doctor in bed with is wife.  “What do you think you’re doin’, Doc?” he asks.  “I’m, er, taking your wife’s temperature,” replied the doctor.  “Well, I don’t know much about doctorin’,” said the redneck as he took his shotgun from the wall, “but that thing better have numbers on it when you take it out.”

A bigshot business man had to spend a couple of days in the hospital. Whilst there, he was a royal pain to the nurses because he bossed them around just like he did his employees. None of the hospital staff wanted to have anything to do with him.

The head nurse was the only one who could stand up to him. She walked into his room and announced, “I have to take your temperature.”

After complaining for several minutes, he finally settled down, crossed his arms and opened his mouth.”No, I’m sorry”, the nurse stated, “but for this reading, I can’t use an oral theremometer.”

This started another round of complaining, but eventually he rolled over and bared his behind.

After feeling the nurse insert the thermometer, he heard her announce, “I have to get something. Now you stay JUST LIKE THAT until I get back!”

She leaves the door to his room open on her way out. He curses under his breath as he hears people walking past his door, laughing. After almost an hour, the man’s doctor comes into the room.

“What’s going on here?” asked the doctor.

Angrily, the man answers, “What’s the matter, Doc? Haven’t you ever seen someone having their temperature taken before?”

After a pause, the doctor replies, “Yes, but never with a daffodil!”

Upon arriving home, a husband was met at the door by his sobbing wife.  Tearfully she explained, "It's the druggist - he insulted me terribly this morning on the phone." 

Immediately the husband drove downtown to confront the druggist and demand an apology.

Before he could say more than a word or two, the druggist told him, "Now, just a minute - listen to my side of it. This morning the alarm failed to go off, so I was late getting up. I went without breakfast and hurried out to the car, just to realise that I locked the house with both house and car keys inside."

"I had to break a window to get my keys. Then, driving a little too fast, I got a speeding ticket. Later, when I was about three blocks from the store, I had a flat tire. When I finally got to the store there was a bunch of people waiting for me to open up. I got the store opened and started waiting on these people, and all the time the darn phone was ringing off the hook."

He continued, "Then I had to break a roll of nickels against the cash register drawer to make change, and they spilled all over the floor. I got down on my hands and knees to pick up the nickels - the phone was still ringing - when I came up I cracked my head on the open cash drawer, which made me stagger back against a showcase with a bunch of perfume bottles on it...half of them hit the floor and broke. Meanwhile, the phone is still ringing with no let up, and I finally got back to answer it. It was your wife - she wanted to know how to use a rectal thermometer. and believe me, Mister, I TOLD HER! “

A doctor is going about his business, with a rectal thermometer tucked behind his ear.

He goes into a staff meeting to discuss the day’s activities, when a co-worker asks why he has a thermometer behind his ear?

He removes the thermometer, looks at it and exclaims: "Damn, some asshole has my pen!"

Quote Keith Richards

“Sure thing, man.  I used to be a laboratory myself once.”

-       Keith Richards (1943 - ), on being asked to autograph a fan’s school chemistry book.

Robin Williams has commented on Keith Richards:

“I know there's a cure for bio terrorism or whatever it is, and I know it lies within Keith Richards.. He is the only man on the planet who can go ‘Anthrax?’ ”

We will all be dead and gone, but Keith will still be there with five cockroaches. He'll be going, ‘I smoked your uncle, did ya know that?’ ”

The reference to smoking their uncle comes from Richards admitting that he once smoked his father’s ashes:

“The strangest thing I've tried to snort? My father. I snorted my father.  He was cremated and I couldn't resist grinding him up with a little bit of blow.  My dad wouldn't have cared - he didn't give a shit. It went down pretty well. And I'm still alive.”

Following public criticism, he said a few days later that it had been a misunderstanding:

 "The complete story is lost in the usual slanting.  The truth of the matter is that I planted a sturdy English Oak. I took the ... ashes [and sprinkled them beneath the tree], and he is now growing oak trees and he would love me for it!”

As for the ashes-and-cocaine-snorting story, "I was trying to say how tight Bert and I were — that tight!"

He subsequently denied his denial, admitting that he really had snorted his dad’s ashes, just not with cocaine.

“The cocaine bit was rubbish. I said I chopped him up like cocaine, not with. I pulled the lid off (my father's urn) and out comes a bit of dad on the dining room table. I'm going, 'I can't use the brush and dustpan for this'. What I found out is that ingesting your ancestors is a very respectable way of ... y'know, he went down a treat.”

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Last Words: Countess Di Vercellis

“Well! A woman that can fart is not yet dead!”

-       La Contessa Therese Di Vercellis

Madame di Vercellis (1670-1728), the wife of Count Hippolyte Vercellis, a Sardinian army officer, married at age 20 and was a childless widow 6 years later. In 1728, when she was aged 58, she employed 16 year old Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who had run away from Geneva, as a footman. 

Rousseau would later find fame as a philosopher, writer and composer of 18th century French Romanticism.  His political philosophy influenced the French Revolution  as well as the overall development of modern political, sociological and educational thought.

In 1728 such fame was still a long way away.  His employer, Madame di Vicellis, was dying of breast cancer.  Becoming increasingly unable to write, she utilised the young Rousseau to take down dictation and look after her correspondence. 

Rousseau was with her at her death and recorded her last words in his posthumously published  autobiography, Confessions:

At length we lost her--I saw her expire. She had lived like a woman of sense and virtue, her death was that of a philosopher. I can truly say, she rendered the Catholic religion amiable to me by the serenity with which she fulfilled its dictates, without any mixture of negligence or affectation. She was naturally serious, but towards the end of her illness she possessed a kind of gayety, too regular to be assumed, which served as a counterpoise to the melancholy of her situation. She only kept her bed two days, continuing to discourse cheerfully with those about her to the very last. At last, when she could hardly speak, and in her death agony, she let a big wind escape.  “Well!” said she, turning around, “a woman that can fart is not yet dead!” These were her last words.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Pics are back

I have my pics function back.  The computer chap didn't find the problem that was preventing me importing images, he simply arranged things so that I am now using a different browser.  From what I gather, it is the equivalent of catching the train, instead of the bus, to travel to the city.  What counts is that I can again post pics, so that today's post is a visual feast: another collection of amazing street and public art, and a contribution from Byter Leo...

Public and Street Art -

and Leo's item:

After receiving numerous customer complaints,
about their employees, "plumber crack"....a
German plumbing firm bought their plumbers a
new t-shirt, designed to make their employees more
attractive to the customers...