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Heart shaped wire in scrapyard

Multiculturalism, regardless of what German Chancellor Angela “Ja! Ja! Ja! Mein Gott! Dein Schwanz in meinem Arsch!” Merkel thinks, is not an end in itself. It is rather a consequence of the simple fact that people move around the world, and this has grown exponentially as communication and transportation has become easier and cheaper. It is unlikely ever to diminish.

Where individuals move, there is a tendency for them to absorb at least some of the culture they occupy. Where groups move, the resistance is greater, such as the behaviour of the British in the former empire. Orwell’s “Burmese Days” has a brilliant image of the traditional English garden, resolutely cultivated despite the searing heat of a Myanmarese summer, and by turns either wilting away or erupting into exotic life.

So the question is really the extent to which individuals and groups should surrender their cultures when they move abroad. This however runs counter to the worldwide growth in the perceived value of localised cultures (itself a reaction to the Americanisation of the world). In the UK the most obvious manifestation of this has been the Welsh and Gaelic languages, which are now actively sponsored where before they simply lived or died on their own terms.

So rather than fretting over multiculturalism per se, do we think that it is a good thing to support diversity, or do we think the ideal would be everybody being pretty much the same, and other cultures should only be viewed as relics in a museum or mere curiosities to be mocked and distrusted?

Now that it is all over until next year (!) here is a Christmassy poem by Tess Kincaid

There’s a place for us,
an oasis between fruitcake
and watering the tree,
with hot-and-cold running kisses,
that stretch restless,
from the hearth
out to the snow,
where I push you back pink
and holiday-faced,
knowing this smiling garland
around our necks
links forever compatible.

Woody Allen’s breakthrough movie; it won four Oscars (best picture, best actress, best director, best screenplay) and established Allen as a leading auteur film-maker. Thought by many critics to be Woody Allen’s magnum opus, Annie Hall confirmed that he had “completed the journey from comic to humorist, from comedy writer to wit, and from inventive moviemaker to creative artist” (Saturday Review).

There’s something for everyone on this blog!

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Yet another goddamn poem by Tess Kincaid.

Somewhere along the line,
the big zero of time
was twisted at the waist,
to become an eight.

An hourglass of days,
slipping slow from the top,
then fast below the belt.

Is it providence,
or a lemniscate of fate?

I like to think of myself as verb
and not as object; chop-chop.

I wait the hours;
I empty my head of winter.

I am frightened
by other people’s fears,
but not of the eight,
an hourglass of days.

OK, so these are just gratuitous Christina Hendricks pics.

Apparently, it was one of most controversial episodes in Mad Men’s explosive season. Red-headed bombshell Joan Holloway slept with a Jaguar dealer in exchange for a partnership stake in advertising firm Sterling Cooper Draper Price. And now Christina Hendricks, the 37-year-old actress who plays Joan, has admitted she felt “conflicted” about her character’s actions in the series.

“The question is, what would you do to protect your family? Joan is raising her son all on her own. She has no help from anybody,” Hendricks says when asked about her character’s actions in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

In a photo shoot accompanying the interview, which appears in the July issue of THR, Hendrix stays in character with a classically sultry look.

For the magazine cover, the actress shows off her now famous hour-glass figure in a form-fitting black dress. A classical scoop neck reveals Hendricks’s much admired cleavage. She wears her red hair loose, with silver wedding and engagement rings the only jewellery visible.

In another shot, Hendricks is photographed sitting in a 1966 E-Type Jaguar, wearing a black lace top with white lace flowers.

A photograph of Madonna posing naked on a bed whilst smoking a cigarette has sold for nearly £15,000 at Bonhams in New York.

The sum is three times the estimate placed on the image that was taken in 1990, by the same photographer who did the work for Madonna’s 1992 book Sex.

Judith Eurich from the saleroom said: “It is an absolutely stunning image and it is just a beautiful tone of grey. It is not just black and white it is grey and silvery. Madonna was posing for a number of photographers at the time this was taken in the 1990s when she was in her early 30s. She was going through a phase of having bleach blonde hair and heavy dark eye make-up that gave her a dramatic look – and of course she has a gorgeous body. She is a very healthy person and I’d imagine the cigarette is just a prop to make her look sexy and sultry.”

The price paid was $23,750 or £14,761.

(Taken from The Book of Knowledge, edited by Harold F.B. Wheeler)

Good Manners at the Table

Sit upright at the table. Do not slide down on your spine nor sprawl forward on your elbows. Lay your serviette across your lap; don’t tuck it in your collar.

Don’t fidget with your knife and fork, drum with your fingers, or tap your foot on the floor. Don’t make a noise in eating and drinking or take enormous bites or chew with your mouth open. Don’t bite into a whole slice of bread and butter. Break the bread into suitable pieces for eating and butter each piece separately. Don’t bend over your plate and give the effect of shovelling your food into your mouth, and don’t reach for things.

If soup is being partaken of, dip the edge of the spoon that is farthest from you to fill it, and take the soup from the other side, not from the tip. Don’t tip the plate to get the last spoonful.

Table-talk is a fine art. Because unpleasant thoughts interfere with the enjoyment and digestion of food, disagreeable topics must not be mentioned at table. Table-talk is light, bright and crisp, never very serious, and should be as general as possible.

When you have finished eating, drop your napkin unfolded beside your plate, since at a dinner party a napkin is not supposed to be used again; and lay your knife and fork on your plate, side by side, not crossed.

(The Duluth News Tribune, 15 April 1912)

Officials of the White Star Line have confirmed the sinking, during her maiden voyage, of the R.M.S. Titanic, the world’s largest symbol of man’s mortality and vulnerability.

First reports of the calamity were received Monday at the London telegraph office of the White Star Line, which owns the nautical archetype.

At 4:23 a.m. Greenwich Standard Time, the following message was received from the rescue ship Carpathia:

Titanic struck by icy representation of nature’s supremacy STOP insufficient lifeboats due to pompous certainty in man’s infallibility STOP Microcosm of larger society STOP

It is believed at this time that upwards of 1,500 passengers aboard the metaphor may have perished in the imperturbable liquid immensity that, irrespective of mankind’s congratulatory “progress”, blankets most of the globe in its awful dark silence. Seven hundred more passengers survived to objectify human insignificance in the face of the colossal placidity of the universe.

Among the prominent passengers ironically missing and believed perished are New York millionaire John Jacob Astor, mining tycoon Benjamin Guggenheim, railroad president Charles Melville Hays, and presidential military aide Major Archibald Butt, providing further example of man’s inability to cavort with God, no matter how wealthy or powerful he may be, as well as the vast indifference of the universe toward even the grandest of human achievement. Late word indicates, however, that the well-to-do and the privileged constitute a great majority of the living. It could not yet be determined whether this betokens a form of maritime social Darwinism or a particularly overt form of social injustice.

Although unconfirmed as of press-time, it is rumored that the Titanic was proceeding at a rapid pace through ice-berg-laden waters in order that her captain might flaunt the ship’s great speed, making all the more ironic the demise of this paramount symbol of man’s hubris.

An architect from the firm of Harland & Wolff, which constructed the great metaphor, was stunned and aggrieved by the significance of the tragic event.

“I spent the better part of two years re-drawing the marble on the grand staircase at the first-class entrance until it represented absolutely the right dimensions for showing off the daintily luxurious evening wear of the wives of the industrial millionaires. Now that staircase will provide an entrance only for the plankton, moss, and other marine life that inhabits the frigid North Atlantic seabed. I dare say that is ironic.”

I’m too lazy to write a post so here is the new poem by Tess Kincaid … she’s not quite right in the head you know … she lives in Ohio … somebody has to …

I’m too vain to cry much;
my sniffs hide mute

behind strands of my hair,
and layers of waterproof mascara.

With a random hanky-snort,
mine foghorns out a cute G,

not all loud and garble-monster,
like a prehistoric disposer.

I wonder what Matt Damon’s
sounds like, leghorn-straight,

squared off at the end
like Bob Hope’s.

Black Dogs Defined

This is the best of me; for the rest, I ate, and drank, and slept, loved and hated, like another: my life was as the vapour and is not; but this I saw and knew; this, if anything of mine, is worth your memory.

(John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies)

Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

(Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning)

This is my letter to the world, that never wrote to me.

(Emily Dickinson, This is my letter to the world)

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

(Edna St. Vincent Millay, Second Fig)

R.A.D. Stainforth

I was born before The Beatles’ first LP and brought up in the reeking slums of Jericho. I am in love with a woman called Hazel and in love with her daughter, also called Hazel, both of whom I met at Alcoholics Anonymous.

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