Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Photo of the Week: A Visitor to our Balcony

We awoke this morning to find a beautiful web on the balcony and its designer firmly ensconced in the centre. The only down side to this was that in my excited attempt to photograph it, I stepped back to frame the shot and smashed the pot housing our TuBishvat rose. Shhhhh, don't tell L!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traore est Triste

This is my favourite photo from yesterday's match between QPR & Stoke. It's near the end of the second half, and QPR are 1-2 down. A long cross field pass just evades Armand Traore on the left wing.

Luckily, Nico Kranjcar restored some kind of parity in the final minute. Having been viciously fouled a couple of times and the perpetrators receiving minimal punishment from the referee, he equalised with this fantastic free kick:


That feeling of denying victory to an obviously superior foe does not get old. What is it about thwarting the opposition that is so delicious? 

Hoping this is not the best moment of what currently looks like being a long and painful season for my beloved R's.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Not Another Post About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

I'm blaming issues with Google for not blogging earlier about the ALS Ice bucket challenge. But even though everyone is probably fed up by now and you've moved on to other challenges like the Hummus one, I'm still up for this.

First of all, am not exactly sure why, when the actual challenge is make a donation to the charity OR ELSE dump a bucket of ice on your head, people are donating and still sluicing themselves. I'm with my friend young David P who gave his money and absolutely refused to do the ice thing. Also, I do wish that my government would use more of the money I've already given through taxes as funding for all kinds of vital medical research and treatment.

Back to the topic of this post ... actually, first of all should be what on earth is ALS, or MND as it's known in the UK? Here's a link to a simple explanation from Huffpo.

This is a dreadful disease, and hurrah for everyone helping to find a cure!

Meanwhile, here are some of my favourite Ice Bucket Challenges to inspire and/or please you:

Actor Orlando Jones poured a bucket of bullet casings over his head to highlight the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO. There is an article about it here. The vid is here.

Matt Damon is committed to sanitation issues in the developing world, so he decided to use toilet water for his challenge. Read about it here. Watch him here.

Patrick Stewart made a really classy video that I found here. However, at the moment the YouTube video is telling me that the film is now private. If that doesn't work, this link may.

This one is cos I love Tina Fey.

This is for L who loves Sex in the City.

This one is cool and a bit political I suppose.

Dolly Parton is a good sport here.

It's fun seeing famous people get soaked I guess. If you enjoy that, then browse a whole lot more for yourself right here.

Finally, if you still want to take part, both donating and dousing, the UK link for the Motor Neurone Disease Association is here.

I've Missed You All!

Sorry it's been so long since I blogged - a bit of an issue with Google accounts and access to Blogger. Am back now though :-)

Here is a happy photo I took from my seat last Saturday with my little pocket Lumix camera - Rob Green making a save early on from Sunderland's Fletcher to keep us in the game. The first points of the season for QPR were a great early birthday present. Also just glad to keep my reflexes in shape!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Macklemore's Wardrobe Malfunction. Offensive or Stupid (or Both)?


This is the costume that an American rapper called Macklemore wore for a concert the other day. Shortly afterwards, photographs were published with a story accusing him of being anti-semitic. Since he is quite popular at the moment, this was big news in some areas.

So was his outfit offensive? The angle in this photograph is certainly not flattering. Macklemore writes in his blog that some people thought he looked like Ringo Starr and others that he looked like President Lincoln. I would add Howard Wolowitz (from The Big Bang Theory). Was he a bit thick not to anticipate that a beard and a hooked nose might evoke a strong prejudicial stereotype? CNN refers to him as someone who "won a Grammy for a song praised for its cultural sensitivity". HuffPo notes that Macklemore & Lewis have been "lauded for their progressive messages". The general consensus appears to be that Macklemore is basically a decent chap. His apology is also contrite and sincere:

"Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I'm absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended ...

My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalised leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic (sic). I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature. I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee (sic) the costume to be viewed in such regard. I'm saddened that this story, or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity ...

I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and … happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.

I truly apologise to anybody that I may have offended. I hope this better explains the situation and my point of view.

with love,

You can read the rest of it here.

So nu, it seems pretty clear to me that, unlike for example Nicolas Anelka, Macklemore's behaviour had neither a direct or indirect intention to make any kind of social or political point. He was just trying to disguise himself to surprise his fans, and picked a costume that others interpreted in a way he had not considered possible.

Having said that, some people were apparently offended. I hope that if they were, they will have seen from his explanation that it was a genuine mistake. There are certainly anti-semites out there that need our attention. However, particularly when Macklemore's statement concludes with this:

"Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I've got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do"

I choose to conclude that this boy is ok. And this evening, the Guardian reports that the ADL accepts Macklemore's word regarding the matter. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the ADL, has referred to the incident as 'a tempest in a teapot' (Guardian article here, ADL press statement here).

One last thought … is it ridiculous of me to note that the stereotype of a Semitic man with a big beard and a giant nose is surely not limited only to members of the Jewish community? 

Monday, March 03, 2014

I Love Panda Bears

If there is one thing in the world guaranteed to make me feel calm, and peaceful, and better, it is being in the presence of a panda bear. A Native American friend once told me that the panda is surely my spirit guide. Since it's hard to hang out with live pandas in Finchley, here are some alternatives that are quite helpful:

1. The San Diego Zoo PandaCam  LINK

ok there's an 8 hour time difference and sometimes the pandas are behind a tree or somewhere else, but so far it's the best way to get a live fix when necessary

There are also PandaCams in Edinburgh, Atlanta, & Memphis.

2. Cute videos, e.g.,

3.  Wildlife Documentaries
(this is a clip from the David Attenborough film where the panda does a handstand)

Perhaps one day I will experience a moment of joy as I hold a small panda in my arms, like the lucky lucky film-maker gets to at the end of this clip

Best Picture at the Oscars Last Night

Apparently a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with Ellen DeGeneres and the other movie stars sitting in the front two rows at the Oscars last night crashed Twitter because so many people connected to it.

IMHO, if a picture from the Oscars is going to go viral, I'd choose this one:  Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing a group shot of the band U2.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anelka is Banned

Nicolas Anelka has been found guilty of breaking Football Association rules by making a quenelle gesture to celebrate a goal he scored for his team. The FA writes:

"An Independent Regulatory Commision has found an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 against Nicolas Anelka proven and has issued a five-match suspension and a fine of 80,000 pounds, pending appeal.

The West Bromwich Albion player has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course."

A summary of the decision may be found here.

The Guardian notes that:

"the punishment was the most lenient that the FA could have imposed under their new anti-discrimination rules. However, the governing body reported that the three-man panel 'did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote antisemitism by his use of the quenelle.'"

A link to the whole article is here.

The BBC website report quoted the response of the President of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, who told them that he welcomed the decision to make Anelka undergo a compulsory education course:

"That's one of the most attractive parts. We want to educate people. Anelka said he didn't realise it was anti-Semitic, well that kind of ignorance is dangerous … the quenelle is something that few of us in the UK recognise. In France it's known as being a vicious anti-Semitic gesture."

That article may be found here.

The Telegraph reports that Anelka continues to deny the charges and has asked for an appeal. Their coverage includes a quote from Dieudonné, supporting his friend:

"Anelka is a descendant of slaves and if he wants to remark on this history he has the right to - and we are all very proud of him doing so."

The Telegraph link is here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Naughty Shirley Temple!

You may think that butter wouldn't melt in little miss Shirley Temple's mouth, but according to her obituary in the Times:

"In 1935 she was taken by her parents to Washington to meet President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The President invited the Temples to a barbecue at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York, where Eleanor, bending over a grill, proved too much of a temptation for the impish child star. Temple unleashed a pebble from the catapult she carried in her lace purse and hit the First Lady smartly on the rear."

I'm Not a Cartoonist But ...

What did I want to be when I grew up? Easy - a syndicated cartoonist. My hero was Charles M Schulz, and I covered my schoolbooks with Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I even created my own character, a round baby in a romper suit called Pomme de Terre.

So nu, what happened? I guess it depends how you look at things. On the one hand, I've always been pretty sure that I'm not much good at drawing. I consoled myself with the knowledge that SJ Perelman began as a cartoonist, and eventually the captions grew, the drawings dropped out, and he became a writer. On the other hand, I never did put in the time needed to create and develop Pomme's world.

These days I'm coming up to 18 years since rabbinic ordination. As you can see from the pic, cartoons are occasionally part of my work. And now that I've found Laydeez do Comics, it has crossed my mind that it may still be possible to try drawing some more ...