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You may have noticed that I haven’t been around much lately. There have been road trips, graduations, concerts etc. Heck it sometimes feels like my computer and I no longer have any kind of working relationship. Unfortunately this situation wont be improving at all over the next few days, since I have to put another couple thousand miles on my car and see my brother’s graduation. So in the mean time I leave you with some fabulously funny musical comedy (no not that kind of musical comedy).
Igudesman & Joo are the comedy duo from London behind the show A Little Nightmare Music. And while the show itself is great they really bumped themselves up into the stratosphere by writing the funniest bios I’ve ever read.
Aleksey Igudesman was born in Leningrad at a very young age. He has never won any competitions, mainly because he has never entered any. During his studies at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School, he read the entire plays of Bernhard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, and Anton Chekhov, which didn’t improve his violin playing, but made him feel foolishly somewhat superior to other less intellectually endowed, yet harder practising, colleagues.
Back at school he met his “IGUDESMAN & JOO” partner, Richard Hyung-ki Joo. After a few initial small differences, resulting in several people holding them both back from smashing chairs and music stands on each other’s heads, Joo offered Igudes man some fish and chips, which he simply could not refuse. This in turn led to collaboration over many years, which culminated in the creation of “A Little Nightmare Music”, a show they tour together making people laugh.
Hyung-ki Joo was born. He is British, but looks Korean, or the other way around, or both. He showed his first signs of a sense of com edy whilst nappy-changing and shortly thereafter, showed his love for music when his parents would find him at the record store listening for hours to every thing from Mozart to Bee Gees. (Although the two are never to be confused, Hyung-ki is often heard singing “Don Giovanni” in the style of Barry Gibb).
He started piano lessons at the age of eight and a half and two years later won a place at the Yehudi Menuhin School. There, he discovered that he was among geniuses and child prodigiesand was con vinced he would be kicked out of school, year after year. In fact, he was not kicked “out” but kicked “around” by teachers and fellow students, such as Aleksey Igudesman. After these painful experiences, Joo invented a new type of piano playing known as “Karate Piano”.
Hyung-ki, spelt R-I-C-H-A-R-D, and pronounced “Dick”, is the only Korean Jew, (spelt J-O-O) in the world. Hyung-ki has small hands, (but only hands small), and there fore finds some piano repertoire quite difficult to play, such as the music of Rachmaninov, who had Big Hands. Anyway, even with this small hindrance, he happily performs chamber music, recitals, concertos, his own compositions, and anything else that includes a piano part.
At about the 1:25 mark I began rolling on the floor sobbing with laughter. I also strongly deny the rumors that I now sing I Will Survive in a thick Russian accent in the shower. I don’t know what you’re all talking about
This one is my favorite
The fact that the musicians were able to do this so flawlessly absolutely blows my mind
And on that note, I’m off to Ithaca to see my amazing brother graduate from Cornell. Congrats brother dear, and congrats to the entire class of 2011. GO BIG RED!
I’ll just let this speak for itself:
Bill Mudron has struck again. This time he’s done two new posters. One is a superb Rory Pond (née Williams) in centurion mode (be still my heart!) and the other is a version of the 10th Doctor that makes me want to forsake reality entirely and live in a fantasy world like Davy Jones’ locker from Pirates of the Caribbean 3, but with David Tennant, John Simm and Timothy Dalton instead of Jack Sparrow. Although I guess a few Captain Jack Harknesses wouldn’t come amiss. And Johnny Depp can come too, as long as he understands which Captain Jack holds precedence. I will have so much fun! You may remember Mudron from the outstanding Deco Doctor poster that I’ve been bragging about for months now, and which we featured in our last big Doctor Who roundup.
Puffin, I am buying these instead of paying the electric bill this month. Who needs lamps when 10′s smile can light up a room?
It’s Star Wars! It’s steam-punk-esque! It’s our first ever caption contest with actual prizes!
I say, Puffin:
Have you seen these fantastic Victorian portraits of Star Wars characters by Greg Peltz? I adore them, but they seem to be begging for captions, so I shall solicit input from the wider world. I’ve already put some ideas up, but we know enough fabulous people that I’m sure someone will improve on my lackadaisical labels. What can I say, it’s pouring rain and my feathers are ruffled. The person with the best single caption gets a six pack of Granny Squibb’s Iced Tea. Leave your captions in the comments, along with a way to reach you (twitter name, email, your blog, whatever). You will be judged by mysterious people (possibly us, possibly not us), according to inscrutable standards. Sounds like fun, right? RIGHT!
It’s against my programming to impersonate a deity.
Bring me a scantily clad human female in a metal bikini. At once!
Submit comments until Sunday night (5/22), at which time I (or someone else) will pick the winners, or, if we can’t chose, we will open it up for a vote.
Puffin, I must, sadly, prohibit you from playing among the kids. It just wouldn’t be fair to them. While I know your captions will be the best, and I know we shall chuckle over them on AIM later tonight, you are not in the running for a six pack of
crack iced tea.
MacGuffin (who will bring you your very own six pack when she sees you on Monday)
Sometimes science can look an awful lot like magic.
“Happy” was the theme we were given by the organizers for this year’s F5 Re:Play Fest, held in April in NYC, to create this edition’s pieces, probably the hardest thing to convey in any artistic expression. After a good deal of introspection, and teaming up with awesome motion graphics artist Gerardo del Hierro, we decided that happy wasn’t happy for Physalia unless pliers, microchips and a bit of soldering were involved, and with this idea we resolved to create the happiest machine Physalia has built to date.
From Physalia Studios in Barcelona.
A good way to end the day.
I’ve had a love affair with the work of Charles Van Sandwyk for a long, long time. Ever since I found one of his postcards at Courtyards in Tiverton. It was an eerily perfect illustration of Toad, from the Wind in the Willows, and I was in love pretty much immediately. The shop had a pile of his books, most of which come out in limited editions. Like, seriously limited. Like a couple of hundred ever. And Van Sandwyk was sort of obviously going to be a hit with me, given my well-known obsession with books as works of art, and my less well-known obsessions with art nouveau, letterpress, illustration art (Tenniel’s illustrations of Alice in Wonderland are my favorite thing ever) and fairies (not Disney fairies, I might add, the sinister Arthur Rackam type. Think the Wee Free men). So when I ran across Van Sandwyk it was like cold fusion of all my interests. These are some of my favorite books:
You can also get the two frogs as a card and I may or may not have a copy framed. I meant to give it to my parents as an anniversary card, but I couldn’t bear to part with it. But Van Sandwyk’s crowing glory, according to both him and me, is his fantastic edition of the Wind in the Willows, which is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
Van Sandwyk describes pitching his idea for the Folio Society’s edition of The Wind in the Willows: “I sat down in his (the editor’s) office and he said, ‘Right, we’d like another fairly modest version, because we’d like children to be able to buy it, maybe eight or 10 paintings.’ I thought to myself, Oh dear, I want to do so many things here. I said, ‘Please listen.’ He looked at the door, and then at me, and said, ‘Right, what do you want?’ And in a great rush I said, ‘I want two-colour gold blocking on the cover. I want lots of green cloth that looks like willow leaves. Inside, the flyleaf paper should smell and taste completely different than what’s in the middle, and there should be the smell of very expensive glue. And there should be at least 100 paintings or drawings—one for every year I’ve missed doing The Willows, which is almost 100 years. And I think we should have a little engraved tipped-on label for the cover.’ He agreed to take it to the board, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so relieved when I left their office.” From an interview here.
Those are the endpapers. It’s an architectural plan of Toad Hall. I mean come on, could you get more perfecter? And look at this. This is what those Penguin classics editions wish they looked like. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Penguins, in fact I kind of love them. But this…. this is the real deal.
The Centenary Edition goes for $1800 Canadian. And you know why? This is why. “In my mind’s eye, I saw each illustration already finished in the medium it was going to be in, and I think that also comes from having thought this book through for 30 years. Etchings are certainly more work, but they’re a lot more fun. I think my favourite images are the ones I decided to do as etchings, because etching is one of my favourite mediums” (Via.)
These days some of us cannot jet off to foreign lands, so armchair traveling must suffice. Although urban exploration is also a good option. I make quite a habit of armchair traveling. In fact I may or may not actually purchase travel books for places I will never ever go.
Today’s armchair journey is to Iceland, and the Blue Lagoon spa and resort. I’ve been lusting over this place for ages. It’s technically a clinic for people with skin disorders, because the natural seawater and the silica in the stone do something beneficial to skin. Or something. But anyone can stay there and I mean….. look at it….
On the website they describe it thusly:
The heart of Blue Lagoon’s operation is at the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most unique and popular attraction. Guests enjoy bathing and relaxing in Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater, known for its positive effects on the skin. A visit to the spa promotes harmony between body, mind and spirit, and enables one to soak away the stresses of modern life. The spa’s guests rekindle their relationship with nature, soak up the scenic beauty and enjoy breathing the clean, fresh air.
I don’t give a damn about the wishy washy harmony of body and spirit stuff. I just want to go swimming in this thing.
See the rest behind the cut
As you know, I have a dear love for weird and wonderful language. Especially collective nouns for groups of animals. On that note, here are some of my favorites from this site, which is the most complete list of names I have yet found. See the rest here.
|Badgers||Cete, Set, Company|
|Bees||Grist, Hive, Swarm, Nest|
|Cats (General)||Clowder, Clutter, Pounce, Dout, Nuisance, Glorying, Glare|
|Cats (Kittens)||Kindle, Litter, Intrigue|
|Crows||Murder, Horde, Parcel, Storytelling|
|Eels||Swarm, Bed, Fry|
|Ferrets||Business, Cast, Fesnying|
|Fox||Skulk, Earth, Lead, Troop|
|Hawks (Flight)||Kettle, Boil|
|Horses (General)||Team, Harras, Stable, Troop|
|Jays||Party, Scold, Band|
|Magpies||Tiding, Gulp, Murder, Charm|
|Moles||Labor, Company, Movement|
|Monkeys||Troop, Barrel, Carload, Cartload, Tribe|
|Otters||Romp, Bevy, Family, Raft|
|Peacocks||Muster, Ostentation, Pride|
|Rooks||Building, Clamor, Parliament|
|Snails||Escargatoire, Rout, Walk|
|Swans (Flight)||Wedge, Flight|
|Turtles||Bale, Nest, Turn, Dole|
|Zebras||Crossing, Zeal, Cohorts, Herd|
This is my favorite word ever. An implausibility of gnus. Wtf, awesomesauce:
And this, Puffin, is for you:
There are tons more here. Now what I want to know is this. What is the collective noun for us MacGuffins? A pointlessness? An ennui? An ignorance? What are your thoughts on this important matter?
Well Puff, hopefully this represents the end of my radio silence.
Prepare yourself for a rant of epic proportions. I’m fucking furious.
So the House passed HR3, aka the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act, aka the let’s redefine rape act, aka the let’s destroy women’s reproductive rights act, aka the let’s keep doctors from making the right medical decisions act, aka the totally pointless act that ‘codifies’ a rule that was already in existence even though it shouldn’t have been (the Hyde amendment), aka the worst piece of legislation since the Patriot Act. I am, not unexpectedly, right royally pissed the fuck off about this. Open Congress summarizes the bill thusly:
This bill would make permanent and expand the Hyde amendment restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortions. It seeks to prohibit even indirect funding streams that may potentially come in contact with abortion services. For example, it would deny tax credits to companies that offer health plans that cover abortions and it would block anybody with insurance that covers abortions from receiving federal subsidies or medical cost tax deductions, even if the abortion is paid separately with personal funds. Women who use tax-free Medical Savings Accounts would have to pay taxes on the costs of abortions.
Slate is less circumspect:
HR3 eliminates any tax credits or deductions taken by individuals or employers for health insurance, if that insurance plan covers abortion, even if they don’t use the service.
Quite how this qualifies as ‘small government’ I do not know. Apparently the GOP wants to limit the government’s ability to control the blatantly amoral shenanigans of corporations, but it’s totally necessary for zillions of civil servants to spend countless hours fiddling the tax code around to make sure that no money that was ever touched by the government can even indirectly pay for a legal medical procedure. And that, apparently, is a good use of my tax dollars. Yes, it is much more important than auditing Wall Street executives who are stashing cash in small Caribbean islands. Those baby-killing wimminz are much more deserving of IRS scrutiny. The government fucking prints the cash dudes, at a certain point it’s all government money unless we plan to go back to the barter system, in which case me and my knitting buddies will school the crap out of all of you. We actually know how to make stuff, assholes.
Also apparently we have completely forgotten about job creation. At the juncture I will do something I’ve never done before and quote John Ashcroft in defense of my own argument: “While women need the right to birth control and abortion, we also need to be able to have and raise children, and that means equal opportunity, good jobs and equal pay.” We’ve been distracted by all those gay teacher’s unions having abortions! After them! But on the other hand we have created a whole new profession: abortion auditors. It will now be up to the IRS aka the Ninja Abortion Squad, to make sure women don’t spend any government money on abortion.
Because H.R. 3 bans using tax credits or deductions to pay for abortions or insurance, a woman who used such a benefit would have to prove, if audited, that her abortion “fell under the rape/incest/life-of-the-mother exception, or that the health insurance she had purchased did not cover abortions.” Essentially, the bill turns Internal Revenue Service agents into “abortion cops.”
The taxpayer would have to prove that she had complied with all applicable abortion laws. Under standard audit procedure, a woman would have to provide evidence to corroborate facts about abortions, rapes, and cases of incest, says Marcus Owens, an accountant and former longtime IRS official. If a taxpayer received a deduction or tax credit for abortion costs related to a case of rape or incest, or because her life was endangered, then “on audit [she] would have to demonstrate or prove, ideally by contemporaneous written documentation, that it was incest, or rape, or [her] life was in danger,” Owens says. “It would be fairly intrusive for the woman.”
The Daily Kos has a good breakdown of how totally ridiculous this is.
HR3 would disallow tax deductions for your health care expenses if your private insurance plan covers abortion. Not if you actually get an abortion. And not if a member of your family does. All it takes for you to see your taxes hiked is if the private insurance plan you selected and paid for with your own money permits coverage of abortion at all. For anyone. Even if you never get one and never plan to. If you bought a plan that agrees to cover abortion if someone else totally unrelated to you needs one, then you lose eligibility for any tax deductions for the cost of your insurance, and your tax bill shoots up. Republicans take your cash, because you agreed to buy a plan that might someday pay for someone else’s abortion.
Or as the ACLU put it:
It manipulates the tax code so as to penalize millions of Americans by taking away tax credits to small businesses that offer insurance plans that cover abortion along with other pregnancy-related care and by precluding families from deducting medical expenses related to abortion.
How is this not the GOP telling me how to spend my own money? Apparently I lose my tax break for privately purchasing a health plan that covers abortion, even if I never plan to have one, even if I were physically incapable of getting pregnant, even if I don’t have a fucking uterus. All this, of course, is taking place while Texas approves a tax break for people who want to buy yachts worth $250,000 or more. So…. I lose my tax break if I buy an insurance plan that might, once, maybe, cover an abortion for a woman I’ve never met, but tax breaks for quarter million dollar yachts are totally cool. Maybe I can recoup the money I lost because of my health insurance by buying a quarter million dollar boat. Of course if I had a quarter million to spare I would just fly to a civilized fucking country (like Albania, Australia, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia, Cambodia, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, North fucking Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mozambique, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Vietnam or Yugoslavia) and get a goddamn abortion.
Because you know what? Whether you like it or not, abortion is a perfectly acceptable option. And don’t give me that ‘adoption not abortion’ crap. For one thing, as Barbara Ehrenreich points out, “no one has been able to figure out, even with expert counseling, how to use adoption as a method of birth control, or at what time of the month it is most effective.” Pregnancy is difficult, dangerous, and should be done right, with care and attention and, if possible, love. To quote Garret Hardi, “Society does not need more children; but it does need more loved children… There should not be the slightest communal concern when a woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not wanted is about to be born.” No one should be forced to remain pregnant. Surely we can cope with this idea by now.
Pregnancy is not some walk in the park. Aside from everything else, it’s dangerous. Almost 30% of births in the US are by caesarian section, which is major surgery that involves cutting your abdomen open and surgically removing the baby. And that’s fairly common. There can also be terrible terrible complications, even in the perfectly planned births of healthy babies to healthy mothers. Stories like John and Sherry’s are terrifying, impossible to predict, and they do happen. Pregnancy and birth are major medical events. Even when everything goes perfectly it’s difficult, painful, exhausting, and it completely disrupts your life, as it should, since it’s a big fucking deal. It’s not something that can be shrugged off with an ‘oh just have the baby and put it up for adoption.’ We who are pro-choice don’t think that pregnancy is not a big deal. We realize exactly how big a deal it is and we demand the right to make the intelligent, informed, responsible decision not to have the baby. Some of us are not willing to sacrifice 9 months of our lives to an unwanted pregnancy and are not willing to remain celibate in order to ensure that the problem doesn’t come up. (Note please that no one is asking men to abstain from sex in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Apparently using condoms fulfills the responsibility quota for men, but not for women.) When men remain celibate in order to completely eliminate the risk of unwanted pregnancy then I will too. Heterosexual sex without procreation will cease to exist and the lesbians will have all the fun. But wait, there is a better option than celibacy. It’s called birth control, and failing that, abortion. Get the fuck over it.
And don’t you dare even bring God up. If you seriously intend to tell me that I have to drop out of school or take time off work in order to spend 9 months growing an unwanted life and then push a 7 pound thing out of my vagina because the inaccurately reported words of some mythological dude told you it was morally right then I will laugh in your face. You might have a faith as deep and true as can be, but I, for one, do not believe in this ‘God’ person, and if you think that I’m going to let your insanely outdated cultish belief in a supernatural deity influence my medical decisions then you have another think coming.
The GOP position on health care “calls for ‘improving public health through flexibility and innovation’ and ‘giving patients and providers control over treatment options.” Unless those options include abortion, apparently. Y’all saw this video right?
That mother’s baby was being crushed to death inside her. The mother and the doctor were prevented by law from making the right medical decisions on behalf of the mother’s child/the doctor’s patient (both the mother and the fetus, although fetuses aren’t people, so it’s not actually the doctor’s patient, but you know what I mean.)(Also, can we have an episode of House about this? House would never stand for the government telling him what he could and couldn’t do for his patients.) Besides, if you truly believe that a fetus can feel pain (it totally can’t by the way) then how the fuck was it right to sentence this mother and child to three weeks of torture?
But according to Joe Pitts (R-PA) author of the abominable Protect Life Act, this is all fine and dandy, because “abortion is not health care. Abortion is the most violent form of death known to mankind.” More violent, apparently, than Danielle’s fetus being crushed. Or, you know, people being chopped up by machetes in Rwanda, or being stoned to death for being gay.
This leads me to Chris Smith, the reprehensible republican representative from New Jersey who, during the House debate, said that future generations “will note with deep sadness, that some of our politicians, while they talked about human rights, never lifted a finger to protect the most persecuted minority in the world: the child in the womb.” (emphasis added)
GET FUCKING REAL
1.) For fuck’s sake don’t let the Jews hear you say that. No seriously, that’s heinously disrespectful to actual people who have actually been persecuted. As opposed to a bunch of cells in some teenager’s uterus.
2.) You are a total fucking douche and as far as I’m concerned you must be morally bankrupt and I hope you someday realize what you have done and I hope your wife/daughter/everyone you know is ashamed of you and tells you so to your face. Seriously, how the fuck do you live with yourself?
3.) More persecuted than the women you are denying health care to? Because “the most immediate effect if HR3 passes into law would likely be that every insurance company in the country would drop abortion coverage, as no employers or individuals are likely to take a tax raise just to keep a plan that covers abortion services. This will result in more dead pregnant women, since insurance companies will also drop coverage for expensive late term abortions that are used to save women who develop conditions such as eclampsia later in their pregnancies, a service that can cost thousands of dollars.” Via.
4.) More persecuted than the victims of Joe Pitts’ Let Women Die Act, which would “allow hospitals that receive federal funds but are opposed to abortions to turn away women in need of emergency pregnancy termination to save their lives.” Currently, “if a hospital can’t (or wont) provide the care a patient needs, it is required to transfer that patient to a hospital that can, and the receiving hospital is required to accept that patient. In the case of an anti-abortion hospital with a patient requiring an emergency abortion, ETMALA would require that hospital to perform it or transfer the patient to someone who can. Pitts’ new bill would free hospitals from any abortion requirement under EMTALA, meaning that medical providers who aren’t willing to terminate pregnancies wouldn’t have to — nor would they have to facilitate a transfer. The hospital could literally do nothing at all.” I would like to think that no doctor would allow that to happen, but these days I’m not so sure.
5.) Also those fetuses are apparently more persecuted than, say, all the rape victims who were not ‘forcibly’ raped. Because yes, the forcible rape thing is back. Like a bad penny, this piece of cold hard shit just will not go away. Forcible rape. As if there were any other kind of rape. As if there were some other, non forcible way to force your penis (or whatever) into your victim. Or violate them in whatever other way. Violation is, by nature, forcible; that’s why it’s a violation. Rape is the act of forcing someone into sex, but according to the new forcible rape language, it’s not rape if the victim says no but does not physically fight off the perpetrator, or if the victim is drugged or threatened, or if the victim is physically or mentally incapacitated, or if it’s statutory rape. I guess this means it’s open season on coma patients. They didn’t fight the perpetrator off and they didn’t say no, so…..? And also, you know, when uncle Lester the molester threatens to beat the shit out of his 15 year old niece unless she keeps quiet about what he’s doing to her, that’s not rape any longer. And if he knocks her up she can’t have an abortion on medicaid, and her insurance wont pay for it, and Planned Parenthood will be gone or inaccessible. This is going to be a great new world guys.
For all these reasons and many more, Chris Smith, Joe Pitts and the authors of HR3 win the Asshole of the month award for May, even though we’re only 5 days in. I can’t imagine anyone is going to beat this in the next 25 days.
MacGuffin, who is seriously disillusioned with America in general these days