I started the evening watching Michael Buble, feeling all warm and fuzzy (and a wee bit Christmassy). When it finished , I flicked over to BBC and caught coverage of Take That's 'Progress' Tour. It's quite a show. The production that's gone into it is quite astounding. But what a waste! Energy, water, paper....lost count but I had to turn off in the end because it was annoying me so much. I'm probably a killjoy. But it brought to mind scenes from The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) - the citizens of the Capitol enjoying outrageously extravagant lifestyles and entertainment at the expense of the poor people who are forced to scratch a living in the outlying Districts. And the point is that a good entertainer doesn't need all that production. Michael Buble was spinetinglingly brilliant, without any strobe lights, flame throwing machines or fountains. And, for that matter, the best moment of the Take That show that I watched was when Robbie Williams sang by himself with nothing to look at but him. Raw energy, a stunning voice, no gimmicks and he had several thousand people right there with him in the moment. The rest of the show was just ridiculous.
In 2005 The Muppets lost possibly their most important 'collaborator' since the horribly premature death of Jim Henson. Kermit has never sounded quite the same since Henson's death (though all credit to Steve Whitmire for the excellent job he does) and, though I am looking forward to the new film, I feel that none of the Muppets will ever sound the same since the death of Jerry Juhl.
One of the first of the regular team, Juhl met Henson in 1961 and worked initially as a puppeteer as well as writer on Henson's series Sam and Friends. He stayed on as writer for Sesame Street and was head writer on the one and only Muppet Show. Juhl's mix of childish puns, well timed slapstick and jokes that play to kids and adults alike is almost pantomime but it's only half the story. Though the characters were created and brought to life by their performers, the way in which Juhl wrote for them showed a great talent for character comedy. Kermit may play Bob Cratchit but he's still Kermit and we won't accept him as anything else. A Fozzie joke will not work in the mouth of Miss Piggy. Juhl was essentially writing for a theatrical troupe of regulars, he knew and understood his cast and the material he wrote for them was suited to their particular talents and their sense of humour. The way they interact with each other shows the same savvy mind at work. The comedy is so inventive, so anarchic and so surreal that it's easy to overlook this character element but without it we would not believe in the Muppets, and that's the only reason they work; we buy into the fantasy without question.
Juhl was involved in almost every Muppet venture (and other Henson projects like Fraggle Rock as well) right up to Muppets in Space, and yet Christmas Carol, written over 15 years after the first Muppet Show, shows no lack of imagination, no dulling of the humour, and no boredom with the characters, it is a joyous experience. As I said, I hope the new movie will be good, but it will be missing a voice. I also hope the writers have the sense to look at what Jerry Juhl achieved, not just as a gag writer, but as a character writer.
Ok, I think it's time these stories got an airing-
call it therapy.
When I was a young 20 something, at university, I went through a phase of going on a fair few first dates: someone told me that I had to kiss a lot of frogs until I found my prince and I decided to take that advice literally. Well, all those first dates have given me plenty of horror/funny tales to tell.
There was the time I’d arranged to meet a guy that I worked with when I was a barmaid. But the night before the date, I’d gone out with my mates and had quite a heavy night of it, so by the time the date came around I was very hungover and suffering from sleep deprivation. I did try to cancel but the guy looked hurt so I went out anyway. He took me to see ‘The Full Monty’’ at the local cinema. We were late and the cinema was packed so we ended up sitting at the very front row. I managed to watch the first half of the film before the heat of the crowded room, and the angle at which we had to watch it-ie practically laid backwards mixed with my lack of sleep the night before took its toll. The next thing I remember was being woken up by my p’eed off looking date while the end credits rolled. I didn’t get a kiss that night but I did find out that I snore.
Another cinema related date. We went to see ‘Independence Day’ but beforehand we had a few drinks in the bar. By the time the movie started I needed the loo. The doors to the cinema were at the back and our seats were somewhere in the middle. I fought my way to the end of our row- feeling a little embarrassed that I was disturbing all the film watchers and so not paying attention to where our seats were. When I returned from the loo, the bright lights in the ladies had affected my eyes, so that in the gloom of the cinema everything- apart from the big screen was practically black. I’d also not worn my glasses so I was basically blind and I couldn’t remember where my date was. It was only after I’d strode right past the row he was sitting in that I realised my mistake. Doing a u-turn and then getting everyone up from their seats again was even more embarrassing.
My next story also involves the dark. My date and I had gone to a very quaint country pub, and again, half way through the date I needed to visit the ladies’. After washing my hands I went to use the very shabby looking electric hand dryer hanging off the wall. I stuck my hands under it and nothing happened, which was then that I noticed it had been switched off by the socket on the wall. So, with dripping wet hands, I switched it on. There was a bright blue flash and a crackle and the lights in the ladies’ went off and I was plunged into blackness. I wiped my hands on my jeans and opened the door to the pub, only to find more blackness interspersed with shouts and giggles. I literally had to feel my way back to the little table where I’d left my date. Before long, someone had come around with candles and shortly after that they’d changed the fuses and the lights came back on. I never told my date that it was me and my wet hands that had blown the fuses.
I do have other stories- like when I’d brought a guy back to my student digs and offered to make him cheese on toast- how could he refuse? We had one of those old fashioned eye-level gas grills and the ignition didn’t work so that you had to light it with matches. By the time I got the match struck, there was enough gas pouring out of the grill to flambé an entire loaf of toast. In a great ‘woof’ of flame, I lost my eyebrows, eyelashes and my date. Don’t worry- he survived- he just legged it while he had the chance.
Thankfully, I’m married now and so will not have to endure any more first dates.
Mozart was, in fact, Scottish. He belonged to the little-known clan of McMozart, an offshoot of the slightly larger clan of McBach. One of his most popular works, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik was originally a celebration of Scottish folktunes however it turned out that there was a surprising level of anti-Scottish feeling in Vienna at the time he composed it and it caused riots everywhere it was played. Under duress, he rewrote it as the version most commonly known today. The earlier version only came to light a few years ago. It has since been played all over the world and enjoyed by audiences who appreciate the beauty of Scottish folk melodies.
'Thanks,' said the Para. 'But before I go in, are there any Military Police in heaven?'
'Military Police? No there are certainly no Redcaps in heaven.'
'Great,' says the Para. 'I hate those RMP monkey bastards.'
The Para walks into heaven and St Peter closes the gate.
Half an hour later the gates fly open and the Para lands on his arse in front of St Peter.
The Para gets up. 'You lying bastard!'
'I thought you said there were no RMP in heaven?'
'There aren't any RMP in...wait a minute,' said St Peter. 'Was this guy immaculately turned out, red hat, shiny boots?'
'Well yeah!' said the Para.
'Oh no,' said St Peter. 'That was god, he just thinks he's RMP!'
Let me tell you about Kyle Edmonds. He died on the
12th of December 1985 and he was twenty eight years
old. He died in the snow, on a cold and dark day like
At the time of his death Kyle was a captain in the
101st Airborne division of the US Army and when I knew
him he was the best platoon commander I ever saw.
Kyle had a total comprehensive knowledge of all things a
young officer should know and he had the personality to use that
knowledge in a way which was both timely and
He consistently would get the best out of his sergeants and
men. He was forthright and direct but never blunt and he exuded
an aura of confidence and competence.
…and he was my friend.
He died while returning from United Nations peacekeeping
duty in the Middle East. His unit was due to rotate out and the
commander organized special transport to get the married men of
his command home in time for Christmas.
The fact that such a quality unit was posted in such a
delicate spot ensured that peace would prevail there. And it did.
This concept is difficult for some to understand. Kyle and his
men accomplished their mission.
Kyle, a newly wed when he deployed was looking forward to
seeing his newborn child for the first time. He refused this
transport to make way for one of his men but his commanding
officer overruled him and Kyle was ordered home.
This was Kyle’s second marriage as the first failed do to the stresses put on it by the dedication Kyle put in to his service. I am familiar with that circumstance. His second marriage ended when he died in the snow in Canada.
Their charter aircraft departed Cairo for Cologne, Germany where it was refuelled and then made it’s was on to Gander, Newfoundland, Canada. It crashed on take off and killed all of its two hundred and forty-eight passengers. One of them was Kyle.
His child never knew what a great guy and dedicated soldier Kyle was. People would have told him but he would never know him.
I didn’t grieve or mourn when he passed, but it was a bit
of a shock. It was too random, nothing but luck. He didn’t screw
up. He didn’t forget anything…it was just his time. I think my
strongest reaction was anger and
disappointment. Why him,….. why now. ,,,It had
been almost three years since I had seen him when he
There will be snow on his grave now. His mum and sister used to tend it. I’d like to think that they still do but time heals and people must move on as that is the way of things.
Around this time of year I take a moment
to remember what a great guy he was, what a crap card player he
was, ….how he always looked tired but never was. .and how he
helped me learn and accept that death rarely comes to those who
deserve it. ...
Here’s to you Cap. All present and correct.
We'll experiment a little over the next day or two with some slightly modified colour arrangements, but the broad outlines of the change should by now be (very!) clear. Do also play around with the tabs at the top of your screen (ie: the bit in raspberry) as we've been putting a lot of attention into overhauling the main WW site too.
We'll be in 'beta' for a while - sorting out any glitches, checking for dead links, etc - but you can definitely see what we've been up to ...
I've never kept any of my cartoon drawings, I've always either given them to people or just left them lying around. I think of them as (this is a bit gay!) "my little friends who live in pens" (I am such a dweeb!). I basically carry them around with me, and wherever I can lay my hands on a pen and paper, they can come out to play!
The Twit birds are pretty much my favourites. Here is a cartoon featuring them - I hope you enjoy it!
We’re surrounded by Coconut trees - tall palms with thin trunks extending skywards up to the foliage and goodies. Ripe nuts harvested by men, helped by monkeys on ropes. Allegedly, more people die from falling coconuts than from shark attacks – hmm.
What you see in a supermarket or at a fairground is the hard, brown ‘nut’ inside a much larger green case – although this case is ‘soft’ pulp, a kilo landing on your bare bonce from 40 feet high would hurt. A. Lot. At harvest time I can hear the nuts plummet to the ground with a loud thump, enough to jolt me out of my chair.
Today (13/12) was different.
Men with chainsaws were harvesting two trees to make a new roadside ‘bench’ – a large wooden patio raised on blocks, with a tiled rain cover - where idle Thai men and women and children can squat and watch the world pass by. A national pastime – a gang of three men were sitting on their motorbikes watching the workers cut up the wood.
Right outside my window, while I was writing – change that to, trying to write. After the chain saws came a petrol-driven mobile bench saw. Feed the trunk in at one end and out comes a plank at the other. Repeat several times. My hat off to the speed of construction - when Thai men work, they don’t shirk (if the money’s right).
‘Why?’ I asked, (the cutting, not the shirking).
Well it seems like the house owner of the original bench had banned ‘guests’, even though these ‘guests’ had renovated his bench in the first place. And very smart it looked when it was finished. Possibly, the proliferation of booze bottles and cans littering the ground had something to do with it.
Or it could have been a complaint – a Swedish Farang has rented his guest house – the bench is only a few metres away from the guest house balcony. But that’s conjecture. Lasse (the Swede) seems amenable enough – and he drinks enough beer and Johnnie Walker Red Label whisky to challenge that theory. Maybe it was his Thai wife...
Anyway, it was Prik’s sister’s land and her trees. So he’s going to relocate to her site just down the soi (road) from us. Now, a discussion is taking place. Work has stopped – fag break. I can see this is going to be an all day job... ah, a new circular sawing blade is being installed.
Cutting continues. So does the noise. I’m the only one left who’s watching. It’s mesmerizing.
Shame about the writing...
Update today (15/12). Scenes of frantic activity. Morning, planks relocated. Afternoon, construction. Finished by 6:00 as the light starts to fade. Must be whisky night...