Tuesday, June 22, 2021





I have previously posted poems that featured word play of various sorts. Here are some more . . .


Guess the poem:

The following is a reconstituted poem by John Raymond Carson.

Scintillate, scintillate, globule lucific
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific
Loftily perched in the ether capacious
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous



Visual poems also known as concrete poems and calligrams, are poems in which the shape of the poem reflects its subject matter.

On of the most famous is from master wordplay poet Lewis Carroll from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. In the third chapter, a mouse offers to tell Alice his story. "Mine is a long and a sad tale!" he begins, making Alice think that it means its tail, so that she pictures its recitation in the form of a twisted, tail-like shape. In the tale, the mouse (speaking of itself in the third person) explains how a dog called Fury proposed to have a trial and to condemn the mouse to death, Fury being both the judge and jury.

The poem in plain text:

Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, 'Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you.— Come, I'll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I've nothing to do.' Said the mouse to the cur, 'Such a trial, dear sir, With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath.' 'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,' Said cunning old Fury; 'I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.'

As it appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

Shaped poetry has been around for a long time, even Chaucer used it.

Another well known example of a shaped poem is "Easter Wings," by 17th-century poet George Herbert. It was originally printed sideways on two side-by-side pages. When held at this angle, there would be shaped wings on each of the 2 pages. The poem is a reflection on redemption and begins with a sombre tone but, in the curve of the wing, things take a brighter turn with the line, "O let me rise."


Which leads me to another well known concrete poem, this one a limerick.

This has been posted in Bytes before but not in the context of being illustrative  of concrete poetry.

There was a young fellow named Bliss
Whose sex life was strangely amiss,
On night flights with Venus
His recalcitrant penis
Would never do better than t

(Hopefully the above works visually when posted and emailed. If not, here is an alternative . . . 

There was a young fellow named Bliss
Whose sex life was strangely amiss,
On night flights with Venus
His recalcitrant penis
Would never do better than 


My work here is done.

Monday, June 21, 2021


“Since the death of Einstein in 1955 there hasn’t been a single living genius. From Michelangelo, through Shakespeare, Newton, Beethoven, Goethe, Darwin, Freud and Einstein there’s always been a living genius. Now for the first time in 500 years we’re on our own.”

― J.G. Ballard (1930 – 2009)

James Graham Ballard was an English novelist, short story writer, satirist, and essayist best known for his war novel, Empire of the Sun.



Some more colourful street art and murals . . .

Sunday, June 20, 2021



THIRD TOP 10 + 2, Part 1

I have previously posted my Top 10 + 2 films, based on “watchability”, those films which you (meaning me) like to watch more than once and enjoy thoroughly for whatever reasons. Hence Groundhog Day was on the list, Citizen Kane was not, at least in my case never having had the urge to watch Citizen Kane more than once.

The reason my first list was called Top 10 + 2 was that I had difficulty whittling the list down to 10. That list was:
Groundhog Day
12 Angry Men
Rat Race
Sin City
Runaway Train
Blues Brothers
Blade Runner
Full Metal Jacket

Sometime later I posted my Second Top 10 + 2:
42nd Street
The Castle
Captains Courageous
Goodbye Mr Chips
Love Actually
Life of Brian
Judgment at Nuremberg
Down Periscope
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Jeremiah Johnson

Here is the next instalment, my Third Top 10 + 2.

Beg, borrow or steal any opportunity to watch them if you have not as yet done so.

By the way, Steve . . .

Steve disagrees with My Top 10 + 2.
He holds a contrary view.
My flicks make him sob.
He’s somewhat a film snob,
But go with what your gut’s telling you.


The Breakfast Club (1985)

Who doesn’t love this quirky moment in time as 5 teenagers from different high school cliques spend a Saturday in detention with their authoritarian assistant principal. Made on a $1m budget, it earned $51.5m.

The tagline on the film poster (which was photographed by Annie Liebovitz) reads:
They only met once, but it changed their lives forever.
They were five total strangers, with nothing in common, meeting for the first time. A brain, a beauty, a jock, a rebel and a recluse. Before the day was over, they broke the rules. Bared their souls. And touched each other in a way they never dreamed possible.
Five strangers with nothing in common, except each other.

The Breakfast Club made John Hughes, who wrote, produced and directed it, a star. Hughes went on to write or direct other classics: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Home Alone, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The film also helped launch the careers of Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson and Ally Sheedy.

Plus the theme song, “Don’t You Forget About Me” . . . what’s not to love about this teen flick that has deservedly become a classic.

By the way:

Judd Nelson improvised the part at the closing of the film where Bender raises his fist in defiance. Although he was supposed to just walk away, Hughes asked him to improvise some actions. The air punch was kept and has become an iconic symbol of the 1980s.


The Enemy Below (1957)

This story of a battle between an American destroyer escort and a German U-boat during World War II, the film stars Robert Mitchum and Curt JΓΌrgens as the American and German commanding officers, respectively. If you like a military film, suspense, a cat and mouse duel and a thoroughly engaging film, then you can’t let this one go. My having watched it numerous times over the years since a teenager affirms that. As the film progresses, each of the captains grows in admiration and respect of the other, two enemy commanders respecting one another in battle, realising that only war prevented a friendship between them

By the way:

The U-Boat seen in this movie is roomier, more spacious, cleaner and tidier than the real German U-boats of World War II (which were more realistically depicted in the later movie Das Boot (1981)). During the Second World War, these submarines did not have passageways and private rooms and were dirty and cramped. Since the U-boat's "head" (toilet) could not be used at depth, the crew was forced to use buckets which, during depth charge attacks, frequently spilled. It was said that when a U-boat returned to base the smell inside the boat was enough to make dockworkers who went aboard vomit.


The Searchers (1956)

I could tell you why this is considered to be one of the best movies of all time, the first psychological cowie (starring John Wayne, of all people . . . a masterpiece of casting), how directors have lifted his scenes (Remember Luke Skywalker rushing back to his uncle’s farm? Lifted from The Searchers) and how it has influenced filmmaking since, both for Westerns and in general, yet received not even on Academy Award nomination. But I won’t.

It is the story of Ethan Edwards (John Wayne), a hardened, embittered Civil War veteran, and his adoptive nephew Martin Pawley (Jeffrey Hunter), who spend years searching for Ethan's niece Debbie who was abducted by Indians. Pawley’s aim is to rescue her, Ethan’s to kill her after having been turned into a “savage” herself, especially in that they also killed the woman he secretly loved but could never have, his brother’s wife and Debbie’s mother.

I read the book before the movie was made and it surprised me that the movie did not include an item from the last pages of the book, the motivation for Pawley searching fro Debbie for so many years. There is a flashback to Pawley being occupied by something when she wants his attention and he brushing her off, leading her to say within his earshot “He didn’t care.”

By the way:

Whenever someone says something to Ethan, or makes a suggestion him, with which he does not agree, Ethan responds with "That'll be the day." Buddy Holly was so influenced by seeing that movie and hearing the line that he wrote his hit "That'll Be the Day" as a response.

The final scene, Ethan an outsider in a world and landscape in which he no longer fits.


The Quiet Man (1952)

What?? A top film about Ireland with John Wayne in the lead role? Yep, and it works, so much so that John Ford picked up his fourth Oscar as best director for this now classic.

There is so much in this film that would today not be acceptable, but that only serves to illustrate how out of control or PC cancel culture has become. Watch the film for a few hours of delight and entertainment, all set against a backdrop of beautiful Iris countryside and Irish characters,

By the way:

At the film's conclusion, after the credits, we see Kate and Sean standing in their garden waving good-bye. Maureen O'Hara turns to John Wayne and whispers something in his ear, evoking a priceless reaction from Wayne. What was said was known only to O'Hara, Wayne and director John Ford. In exchange for saying this unscripted bit of text, O'Hara insisted that the exact line never be disclosed by any involved parties. In her memoirs she says that she refused to say the line at first as she "couldn't possibly say that to Duke", but Ford insisted, claiming he needed a genuine shock reaction from Wayne. The line remains a mystery to this day.

See the scene by clicking on the link below. Those impatient can fast forward to the 3:37 mark:


Forrest Gump (1994)

What can I say about a film that is liked and loved by everyone in the world (except, I would believe, by Steve). No, that’s not fair to Steve, nor to others with the same dislike. A 2019 article by Eric Kohn Indiewire refers to the “Gump backlash", the article being headed ‘Forrest Gump,’ 25 Years Later: A Bad Movie That Gets Worse With Age.” Kohn states that the movie is a homage to conservatism and maintenance of the status quo, with the central character blundering eyes closed through historic, current events, as Jenny in contrast participates and is ultimately killed by it. According to Kohn “ ‘Forrest Gump’ operates within the constraints of a dangerous fantasy . . . . It’s fake news on an epic scale.” Not so, said director Zemeckis when these same criticisms were directed at the film at the time of its release. “My film is a party to which everyone can bring a bottle."   Producer Steve Tish, when accepting his Oscar for Best Picture, commented that “ ‘Forrest Gump’ isn’t about politics or conservative values. It’s about humanity.” Hanks echoed that sentiment. “The film is nonpolitical,” he said, “and thus nonjudgemental.” Kohn observes that “Two years later, Fox News coined the term ‘fair and balanced’ to describe its partisan analysis of the new cycle with the same degree of credibility.”

So can one disregard the political symbolism of a movie and enjoy it for its entertainment value alone? The same issues have been raised in respect of Marx Brothers movies (stereotyping and entrenched racism, despite their advanced position of that day); westerns and war movies. That discussion can be held to another day.

Maybe Forrest had the answer: “Mama always said you've got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”

By the way:

The scene where Forrest spots Jenny at a peace rally at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., required visual effects to create the large crowd of people. Over two days of filming, approximately 1,500 extras were used. At each successive take, the extras were rearranged and moved into a different quadrant away from the camera. With the help of computers, the extras were multiplied to create a crowd of several hundred thousand people.


Midnight Sting (1992) 
(Known as Midnight Sting in Oz, as Diggstown elsewhere).

Let’s see:
Good script +
James Wood and Louis Gossett Jnr +
Quirky film, not cookie cutter+
Feel good and a victory for nice guys +
Brice Den as the baddie +
Oliver Platt and Heather Graham +

What is there not to like about this little known and still under-appreciated movie that was a box office flop. I won’t tell you of the plot in that the surprises are part of the film’s attraction, just find a copy somewhere and watch it.

By the way:

The film was released as "Midnight Sting" in Australia to capitalize on the success of the classic, similarly named 1973 film "The Sting".


Saturday, June 19, 2021





Some WW1 anecdotes and incidences:

Henry Allingham at age 110 in 2006

Henry William Allingham (6 June 1896 – 18 July 2009) was:
  • an Englishman who is the longest-lived man ever recorded from the United Kingdom’
  • a First World War veteran;
  • for one month, the verified oldest living man in the world;
  • the second-oldest military veteran ever; and
  • at the time of his death, the 12th-verified oldest man of all time.
Additionally, he was:
  • the oldest-ever surviving member of any of the British Armed Forces;one of the oldest surviving veterans of the First World War;
  • the last survivor of the Battle of Jutland;
  • the last-surviving member of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS), and
  • the last-surviving founding member of the Royal Air Force (RAF).

In 2001, he became the face of the First World War veterans' association, and made frequent public appearances to ensure that awareness of the sacrifices of the First World War was not lost to modern generations.

Henry Allingham, the oldest Briton in history, credited his longevity to “cigarettes, whiskey and wild, wild women – and a good sense of humour.” He died at the age of 113.

Allingham in RNAS uniform at age 20 in 1916


During WWI, Woodrow Wilson kept a flock of 48 sheep on the White House lawn to save money on groundskeepers. The sheep also earned $52,823 for the Red Cross through the auction of their wool.

In addition, tours and receptions at the White House ceased, and all packages were thoroughly inspected before going into the house. The rationing program was observed. President and Mrs. Wilson had "wheatless Mondays" and "meatless Tuesdays." Some days they rode in a carriage instead of an automobile to save fuel. Compared to the Spanish American War, most of the war planning activities occurred in the Executive Offices Building west of the White House.

Pictured next to the West Wing is a mound of wool from President Woodrow Wilson’s sheep.


SM U-28 was a U-boat that served in the First World War. It conducted 5 patrols, sinking 40 ships totalling 90,126 tons.

U-28's final patrol began on 19 August 1917, when it departed from Emden for the Arctic Ocean. On 2 September, at 11:55 am, it encountered the armed English steamer Olive Branch, 85 nautical miles (157 km; 98 mi) north-by-northeast of North Cape, Norway. U-28 scored a torpedo hit, and closed in to finish the steamer with gunfire. The shells detonated Olive Branch's cargo of munitions, which it had been carrying from England to Arkhangelsk, Russia, and the subsequent explosion so badly damaged the U-boat that it sank along with the steamer. All 39 of its crew were lost; some were seen swimming, but were not picked up by Olive Branch's lifeboats.

An alternative description of the event states that when the ammunition detonated, a truck carried as deck cargo was blown into the air and fell from a great height on the U-boat, sinking it.


During WWI, a Hungarian soldier named Paul Kern was shot in the frontal lobe, making him unable to fall asleep. He lived for years afterwards, and no one knows how.


Alvin Cullum York was the most decorated American man to have served in World War One. His achievements are too many to list here but the event for which he is best known was for leading an attack which resulted in 160 German soldiers being killed or captured. He also took control of over 30 German machine guns. As a result of his actions he was promoted to Sergeant, as well as receiving awards on both sides of the Atlantic. As well as a reward of farmland he was awarded both the Congressional Medal of Honour and the French Croix de Guerre, which firmly marked his name in the history books. Gary Cooper portrayed him in the 1940 film Sergeant York. York used the fee he was paid for the film to fund a Bible college.


The Pals battalions of World War I were specially constituted battalions of the British Army comprising men who had enlisted together in local recruiting drives, with the promise that they would be able to serve alongside their friends, neighbours and colleagues, rather than being arbitrarily allocated to battalions.

The practice of drawing recruits from a particular region or group meant that, when a "Pals battalion" suffered heavy casualties, the impact on individual towns, villages, neighbourhoods, and communities back in Britain could be immediate and devastating. As an example, The Sheffield City Battalion (12th York and Lancaster Regiment) had lost 495 dead and wounded in one day on the Somme and was brought back to strength by October only by drafts from diverse areas.

Though it increased enlistment rolls, the fact that it devastated whole regions of the UK whenever a battalion experienced heavy casualties meant that by WWII the idea was abandoned.