Sunday, December 30, 2007

natural nasality

From the sleeve notes in Nelly Furtado's Loose:

Thanks Dave Pensando Jr. for actually liking my natural nasality.

chucky stone on beach

Meet Me In St Louis

Monday, December 17, 2007

a genius for upholstery

OMG! It's Henry James.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


(This one's being stubborn and won't rotate.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

name me!

two songs

Two songs going down really well with the unhemmed team. A new one here ('A Wailing Kind of Thing') & an old one but new to us courtesy of the tireless team over at GMS. Enjoy!

Monday, December 10, 2007


Saturday, December 08, 2007

books of the year 1968

deary deary me

'We never thought to ask how will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by the internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that, once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging.'

from Doris Lessing's Nobel speech

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

look out, Nigel Short


First frost! Break out the sprouts.

And the first birds I've seen on our bird-feeder? A chaffinch and a great tit, taking turns to prod the peanuts.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Connoisseur of Chaos

The first of five sections of Wallace Stevens's 'Connoisseur of Chaos' from Parts of a World (1942):

A. A violent order is disorder; and
B. A great disorder is an order. These
Two things are one. (Pages of illustrations.)

Friday, November 02, 2007

it all comes flooding back

Em saw a 'strange bird' out the back the other day. After some discussion, we think it was probably a green woodpecker.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

On Certain Wits

who amused themselves over the simplicity of Barnett Newman’s paintings shown at Bennington College in May 1958

When Moses in Horeb struck the rock,
And water came forth out of the rock,
Some of the people were annoyed with Moses
And said he should have used a fancier stick.

And when Elijah on Mount Carmel brought the rain,
Where the prophets of Baal could not bring the rain,
Some of the people said that the rituals of the prophets of Baal
Were aesthetically significant, while Elijah’s were very plain.

Howard Nemerov (click on his name to get to one place that this poem hides out in the interweb; it also seems to have been posted on a number of blogs - working together, me and Google make it 3 - does that constitute a virtual bandwagon?)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Poets Going Pop

When I first heard that Paul Muldoon (poet, role model, old enough to be my dad) had started playing guitar and writing lyrics for a band called Rackett, I was horrified. For some reason, it really got to me. If I gave my brains a good rack, I could probably remember when exactly I found out - a couple of years ago, I think. I'm over it now, though I've not become a fan of his 'three-car garage rock' outfit. (For one thing, I don't like the lazy boast of wealth that fuels the 'three-car garage rock' gag.) I met someone this summer who had been to one of Rackett's few gigs. What did she make of it? Well, she thought the lyrics were good.

Just this afternoon I've been reading about the rock'n'roll adventures of Simon Armitage (poet, role model, almost old enough to be my dad). And my reaction to his band, The Scaremongers, is pretty much the polar opposite of the way I felt about Rackett. The new sounds from New Jersey, and the very concept of Muldoon's combo, made my stomach turn; The Scaremongers, and their story-so-far, make my heart beat faster. Not that their record is so wonderful, although it's certainly worth a listen, and I am quite taken by Armitage's northern croon.

I have a few ideas as to why I feel so differently about these two middle-aged poets dabbling in indie-rock, and enacting a teenage dream or two to the accompaniment of some measure of self-deprecation. But I shan't bore you with them right now, partly because they have so much to do with my own teenage dreams, and so could quickly get embarrassing. I just hope that my enthusiasm for The Scaremongers holds up: with Rackett, the journey from distress to indifference was a short one. Indifference is a miserable place to end up. In the meantime, I'm looking forward enormously to the debut LP from Huddersfield's finest!

(Having said all that, I do really enjoy Muldoon's delivery of the lyrics - and the lyrics themsleves - to Rackett's song 'The Sideman' .)

Friday, September 28, 2007

best Bahnhof?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

they have come to save us

boy, we know how to have some fun


Not, strictly, a milkshake. 'This chilled almond milk is on tap in heaven.' Who said that?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Concealed by the woman's head: the word 'you'. Sometimes you're in a hurry and you can't find a 'native speaker' to run your new slogan by ...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


A strong contender for '2-letter Word of the Year 2007'?

From the OED: 'A river, running water. Still in use in Lanc.; in the fen-country applied to the canals for drainage, in which sense it is usually spelt eau [as if a. F. eau water].'

Unlike many of the two-letter oddities with which internet scrabblers have been confounding me of late, this one I could see myself getting some use out of.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

(molto) ben trovato

se non è vero è (molto) ben trovato wł., jeśli to nie jest prawdziwe, to jednak (bardzo) dobrze wymyślone.

Etym. - z Giordana Bruno (Gli eroici furori; 1585 r.).

I didn't know what ben trovato meant. Now, thanks to this place, I do! It's probably the best Italian phrase of all time, wouldn't you say?

Monday, August 20, 2007

two poles

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

rewir mój

cutting and sticking

unhemmed's new favourite blog.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Almost a month ago (ach, how the summer slips by!) I went one morning on a mildly eccentric excursion with my friend, P. It was a lovely warm day and I thoroughly enjoyed the cycle into town - something I'm ashamed to admit I'd never done before (the journey was shorter and more pleasant than I imagined it would be - particularly the spruced-up chunk of park between the metro stations Pole Mokotowskie and Politechnika). We met at the foot of the Marriott Hotel and caught the suburban train southwest out of Warsaw, making sure to buy extra tickets for our bikes. Where were we headed? To visit the village of Tworki and the adjacent town of Pruszków. Why? Well, Tworki is dominated by an enormous psychiatric hospital that has more than you might think to offer a day-tripper on two wheels. And Pruszków is not only renowned for its gangsters, but also because P grew up there in the 1980s.
P tells me that when the hospital was built, before the Second World War, it was one of Europe's most modern. Today I would guess that it's one of the least (although that's a guess made purely on the grounds of a tour of the grounds - we didn't march into any of the wards). The imposing gates stand right by Tworki station. You get the sense that the hospital is the village: the church and a couple of shops are within its grounds. It's on a grand scale, with its red-brick buildings keeping their distance from each other, some of them hidden away in the forest, some seemingly abandoned and overgrown. Having said that, from the photos I took, the place looks in quite good nick ...
Tune in next month for Pruszków!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bob on Balzac

Shortly after first arriving in New York, Bob Dylan, if his Chronicles can be trusted, spent many nights on a sofa belonging to Ray and Chloe, and many hours reading in Ray and Chloe's extraordinary library. He was particularly taken by Thucydides. I like what he has to say about Honoré de Balzac:

'Balzac was pretty funny. His philosophy is plain and simple, says basically that pure materialism is a recipe for madness. The only true knowledge for Balzac seems to be superstition. Everything is subject to analysis. Horde your energy. That's the secret of life. You can learn a lot from Mr. B. It's funny to have him as a companion. He wears a monk's robe and drinks endless cups of coffee. Too much sleep clogs up his mind. One of his teeth falls out, and he says, "What does this mean?" He questions everything. His clothes catch fire on a candle. He wonders if fire is a good sign. Balzac is hilarious.'

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007


These hollyhocks have no idea we are here: they're looking in the wrong direction.

Friday, July 20, 2007

the baking heat led me here

S-e-r-i-o-u-s local meteorology!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

2 legs in the afternoon

I'm taller: I've just been out to stretch my legs.
My legs are green: what could they be jealous of?

Monday, July 16, 2007


Friday, July 06, 2007

crazy map

Click here for a better view of this extraordinary map. What's your favourite metamorphosis? I like the idea of Missouri turning into Poland. And the Alabama-Iran and Wyoming-Uzbekistan pairings appeal.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

squint! you won't regret it


In a roundabout sort of way, may I present the mighty hoopoe as a contribution to today's celebrations of American Independence.
As I type, the good pundits on Radio Trójka are chewing the fat over Bruce Springsteen. Blah blah blah surowy rockandroll blah facet z New Jersey blah blah blah. Super!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


To the best of my knowledge the Falowiec - which roughly translates as The Wave, and you can see why - is the longest continuous concrete block in Poland. Perhaps in the world. When we were in Gdańsk a couple of years ago, Emma's old Polish teacher took us on a detour to take in its awesome size. Its size, let me tell you, is awesome. For reasons not entirely clear to me, I had something like an epiphany when I saw a photo of Julita Wójcik's knitted version in this week's Newsweek. (Some photos of Julita wearing a traffic-light apron here.) I'm very pleased that her handiwork is going to be part of an exhibition about concrete and I look forward to admiring the Falowiec in the flesh. Or should that be in the stitch?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

someone to bear in mind when you're choosing your Trombonist Hero

Or perhaps what I mean is someone for me to bear in mind when I choose my Trombonist Hero. I've recently been claiming that Glenn Miller's principal instrument was the trumpet. How wrong I was. Never has it been more clear to me that I am no King of Jazz.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

11cm of siskin

Wowsers! Check this out. It's Chizhik Pyzhik!

All credit to my dear sister.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Walter Scott

I've never been to Edinburgh. I'd really like to go. My friend Dave lives there in a space-age bachelor pad. And I've just found out that they have this huge memorial to Walter Scott there:
Hideous. And awesome. But is it really 'the biggest monument to a writer in the world', as John Pemble claims?

And what's the smallest?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Gato Perez