Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Flying Scotsman

This famous locomotive has far too many unique features and far to many records and adventures to enumerate here, so I had better not try. Suffice to say she is back where she belongs and newly restored, again, this year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oscar night

The Academy Awards show is Sunday night. I have lost touch with who is up for what award this year, but will probably watch some of it.

Sir Alec Guinness appeared in 60-some films, including those below. He won an Oscar for Best Actor for Bridge on the River Kwai at the 1958 Academy Awards.

He detested Star Wars, some sources say - thought he was far too classy an actor to be playing in such movies. He took the money though, and it was Star Wars which insured his wealth in later life. Maybe he didn't think he was too good for Star Wars. Maybe he was just tired of them.



































Other UK actors winning Oscars for Best Actor include:

(1960s)
Rex Harrison (England) for My Fair Lady
Paul Scofield (England) for A Man for All Seasons
(1980s)
Ben Kingsley (England) for Ghandi
Daniel Day-Lewis (England) for My Left Foot
(1990s)
Jeremy Irons (England) Reversal of Fortune
Anthony Hopkins (Wales) Silence of the Lambs
(2000s)
Daniel Day-Lewis (England) There Will Be Blood
(2010s)
Colin Firth (England) The King's Speech

Many winners before 1960, and many from Commonweath nations. Also, many more were nominated but robbed. (Like Peter O'Toole and Albert Finney and several more.)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Firth things firth


If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me to explain what a firth is, I would have almost five cents by now.

Mostly it's people who live closer to Dayton than Dundee who ask such questions, or the followers of pasture pool more accustomed to Augusta than St. Andrews. Nevertheless, even such as these deserve to go to their graves no longer furtively firth-ignorant. Fer sure.

Afore one speaks of firths, forsooth, one must firth speak of Forth. First and foremost, friends, the Forth is a river. A fine, fine, wondrous river of fabulous and fantastic beauty. Yet everything must eventually come to an end, and so it is with beautiful rivers as well. These wide river-ends the English call estuaries, but those finer folk further in the bracing north call them firths. Not just because the language is more refined in the north, mind you, but... well, because that is what they ARE, you see. Firths.

And, aflight or afoot, near or afar, you'll find no finer firth than the Firth of Forth. Frankly. Yet here we must pause to ensure our quaint colonial friends are not led far afield in their frantic fathomings, for it must be explained - firmly - that as fine as it fairly is, this firth, this fantastical Firth of Forth, it is actually a fjord.

I am at a loss of words, at least F-words, to continue.

Fungool.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Shanghai Squeeze


Warning - this post is not for the weak of stomach: It contains quotes from today's Mail Online. You've been warned.

"Was Wallis Simpson all woman? There's always been speculation about her sexual make-up. Now in a major reassessment her biographer uncovers new evidence."

Gag me with a spoon, why don't you.

Not wanting to inflict more of the Mail Online upon you than absolutely necessary (I read it so you don't have to) I will skip straightaway to the good parts.

"Those in the know shook their heads in disbelief. How on earth had a plain woman, in her late 30s managed to bewitch the most eligible bachelor in the world? What sinister hold did she have over him? And what were her secrets?"

Max ponders "her" secrets. The mind boggles.

Thelma Furness, Ed's most recent-but-now-jilted mistress blabbed and blurted. Seems the 5ft 7in Prince was known as 'the little man' for a completely different reason. And...

"He was sexually inadequate and prone to premature ejaculation."

HOLY MACKERAL! JESUSJOSEPHANDMARY!! HAS THE MAIL ONLINE NO MODESTY WHATSOEVER?

"He was sexually inadequate and prone to premature ejaculation."

Max thinks, uncharitably as usual, that Wallis' face would be a sure cure for the latter.

The Mail Online is shamelessly breathless and red-faced now, neck veins bulging as they continue:

"Charles Higham, one of her early biographers, went into greater detail, describing an ancient Chinese skill at which she was apparently adept, involving 'a prolonged and carefully modulated hot oil massage' and various arts to delay gratification. Indeed, it was known that Wallis has spent a good deal of time in China... "

"There was also even rumoured to be a China dossier, which detailed the intimate techniques she'd perfected, variously called the Baltimore Grip, Shanghai Squeeze or China Clinch... "

Max: "Avast! Make way! Clear the ship's railing. Breakfast lunch and dinner all coming up now!"

WTF WTF WTF???????

CAREFULLY MODULATED??????

THE CHINA CLINCH????











"More tomorrow", the Mail Online threatens.

Disclaimer: the author of this blog takes full responsibility** for photo captions.





**Not to be construed as a serious offer of responsibility.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On this day...


in 1812, Charles Dickens was born. In Portsmouth. Happy birthday.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Max are asking a question on their blog


One of the most noticeable differences between British English and American English, American readers soon discover, is the assigning of a plural verb to a singular subject. Here's an example I saw today on a Danish website:

"The Center for Fundamental Living Technology at SDU (University of Southern Denmark) have updated their web page!"

An American writer (or speaker) would say "has" and "its." We are taught early on that subject and verb numbers must agree, and there is only one "Center" in the subject of the above sentence. On the other hand, we would say, "Dick and Jane" HAVE changed THEIR website.

Without looking for an actual example, I am assuming you would say, "Dick HAS changed HIS website" or "Max IS asking a question on HIS blog." Yet, when dealing with the name of a company or organization, British usage always seems to call for a plural verb. I suppose you assume many people make up that company or organization, but that would be, it seems to me, irrelevant to the rules of grammar, even if you assumed correctly - since you are not talking about the 93 people who work for the organization; you are talking about one organization.

I have searched the rules for this without success - have only been able to find the American rules - so I will put it to the very knowledgeable readers of this blog. Harken back to your Primary School days and tell me if there is some sort of logic that I am missing in the British way of mixing of noun/verb numbers? I want to learn to really write right right now.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Showing restraint

Patient in restraint chair at the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, Wakefield, Yorkshire.

ca. 1869. Henry Clark.

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