Monday, 30 June 2008

"Kiss Ass 'Til Your Lips Fall Off" - Scrappy Harris Blues Band, early-1990s

John and I took a walk around our village when I got home from work today. A farmer who leases a nearby field had his cattle out to graze. Standing at the ironstone wall to watch them, I realized that it was simply the bovine version of what happens between some employees and their bosses in the corporate world every single day...

(You can click on the photo for a larger version.)


Listening to: "Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends" and "Washington Square Serenade". You can read what I've written about them over on Auditory Cortex, through the links I've provided here.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

"Thank You" - Led Zeppelin, 1969

Yesterday was my birthday. A big thank you to everybody who made it so nice - especially to you, John!


PS I'm listening to: "Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends".

PPS And here is John's handiwork - my birthday taco dinner...

(Click on either photo for a full-sized version.)

Friday, 27 June 2008

"Land of No Choices" - Fall of Echoes, 2006

Today is election day in Zimbabwe. Well, it's being called a runoff election. But actually, the folks in Zimbabwe have no choice at all.

Can you imagine arriving at the polls in the States or in Britain to be told that if you don't vote for the party in power, you and/or your family will be killed? Or they'll chop off your hands. Or mutilate you. Or burn down your house?

I've been wanting to write about this all week but am just too angry and upset to find the right words.

I just hope that something happens to change the terrible situation that Zimbabwe has found itself in. And I wish that leaders in neighboring South Africa - primarily Thabo Mbeki - would take the kind of stand this horrid situation deserves. I guess the fact they don't reflects how dangerous Robert Mugabe truly is.


See Auditory Cortex for my latest musical ramblings.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

"Let's Twist Again" - Chubby Checker, 1961

I get loads of I-need-your-bank-account-information scam emails from Africa. I'm sure most of you do as well. But this morning, I've received an email with a new twist.

This one proports to come from an employee of my very own bank here in the UK. There is, apparently, a deposit of over £8million available in my bank if only I will allow the email sender to claim I'm the next of kin of the African/Middle Easterner who originally deposited the funds (under some complicated circumstances). You see, the unfortunate rich man was recently killed in Birmingham in what is described as (and I quote) "AUTO ACCIDENT TRAUMA ".

So after explaining that I'll need to provide all sorts of personal information - including details of my banking information, of course - the sender goes on to include the following paragraphs, which take this type of scam to new levels of imagination. Take a look...

I am aware of the consequences of this proposal. I ask that if you find no interest in this project that you should discard this mail. I ask that you do not be vindictive and destructive. If my offer is of no appeal to you, delete this message and forget I ever contacted you. Do not destroy my career because you do not approve of my proposal. You may not know this but people like me who have made tidy sums out of comparable situations run the whole private banking sector. I am not a criminal and what I do, I do not find against good conscience, this may be hard for you to understand, but the dynamics of my industry dictates that I make this move. Such opportunities only come ones way once in a lifetime. I cannot let this chance pass me by, for once I find myself in total control of my destiny.

These chances won't pass me by. I ask that you do not destroy my chance, if you will not work with me let me know and let me move on with my life but do not destroy me. I am a family man and this is an opportunity to provide them with new opportunities. There is a reward for this project and it is a task well worth undertaking. I have evaluated the risks and the only risk I have here is from you refusing to work with me and alerting my bank. I am the only one who knows of this situation, good fortune has blessed you with a name that has planted you into the center of relevance in my life. Let's share the blessing.

If you give me positive signals, I will initiate this process towards a conclusion. I wish to inform you that should you contact me via official channels; I will deny knowing you and about this project. I repeat, I do not want you contacting me through my official phone lines nor do I want you contacting me through my official email account. Contact me only through the numbers I will provide for you and also through this email address. I do not want any direct link between you and me. My official lines are not secure lines as they are periodically monitored to assess our level of customer care in line with our Total Quality Management Policy. Please observe this instruction religiously. Please, again, note I am a family man, I have wife and children. I send you this mail not without a measure of fear as to what the consequences, but I know within me that nothing ventured is nothing gained and that success and riches never come easy or on a platter of gold. This is the one truth I have learned from my private

I await your response. Feel free to call me on this number 0044-xxx-xxx-xxxx.

I have not called him. But I have to wonder just how many actuall will.


Sunday, 22 June 2008

"Just a Little Misunderstanding" - Contours, 1962

I'm very sorry, John, about the "saloon" misunderstanding this weekend.

And thanks -- as always -- for helping keep my head above the choppy water...


PS Read all about what I'm listening to - "Bump" by Amy Wadge on my music blog "Auditory Cortex".

Friday, 20 June 2008

"What's Your Hurry" - J Geils Band, 1970

I don't know what was wrong with everybody this morning. I'm not exactly a pokey driver; in fact, I'm known for having a bit of a lead foot. But nearly everybody wanted to race past me this morning at light speed, as I made my commute from home into the Oxford-area park and ride.

Even someone I would have expected to drive rationally -- because of the type of car he was in (a Saab) -- wildly passed me, on a narrow stretch of the A4260, at what must have been at least 90 mph. And a crazy driver in a navy blue VW Golf flung himself into the right lane and whizzed around about 10 cars in a busy residential section of Kidlington without being the least bit concerned about any cross-traffic or cyclists he might encounter.

Now people in our part of Oxfordshire do tend to drive a little fast for conditions. I've noticed that ever since moving up there in the spring of 2003. One of my former neighbors once told me that he figures it's because of the legacy of car racing in our part of England. Maybe.

Anyway, this morning's experience was particularly strange. The only car that didn't pass me -- and I was doing about 65mph in a 60 zone -- was a strange grass-green Hyundai people-carrier sort of thing. (You know the type -- a tall, skinny vehicle with tires so narrow that you wonder how the thing manages any contact with the road surface at all.) He stuck right behind me during all 14 miles of my trip. He must have liked my little blue Audi's back end.

So I've been pondering what was going on this morning. Was it because it wasn't raining (for once)? Was it the phase of the moon, perhaps? Did we have a tailwind that I didn't notice?

Ahhhh...I think I know. It's Friday. And everybody was just rushing toward the weekend!

But perhaps I need to slip on my crash-helmet for protection while driving home this evening, just in case.


Wednesday, 18 June 2008

"Let's Put It All Together" - Stylistics, 1974

In honor of Paul McCartney's 66th birthday (yup...that's right....66) today, I thought I'd let Lord Celery readers in on some of the stuff my officemate Gavin and I ponder while at the office.

While eating our lunches yesterday, we started talking about some of the major British bands of the 60s...and how so many have lost key members. For example, look at the Beatles -- they are left with only Paul and Ringo. And how about the Who? They have only Roger and Pete now.

So in what seemed to me like a stroke of genius, Gavin suggested that perhaps the remaining two members of each group should form a new band. That way we'd have Paul on bass, Ringo on the drums, Pete on guitar, and Roger to stand out front and sing (and perhaps shake a tambourine from time to time, if he was so inclined).

Great idea, I thought! Why hadn't I thought of that!

And then he even came up with a name for the band -- the WHO-TLES!

I thought we'd hatched the ultimate plan here. Then, we discovered that Gavin isn't the only one to have this same idea...

I'm sure there are more. I only spent about 5 minutes finding those three.

So much for thinking that Gavin had come up with the next big thing.

I've even come with some of the songs the Who-tles can perform...

  • "The Ballad of John, Yoko, and Captain Jack"
  • "I Can't Explain Yesterday"
  • "I'm Free Eight Days a Week"
  • ...and my own personal favorite: "Won't Get Fooled Again, I'll Cry Instead"

Paul, we hope you are having a splendid birthday celebration! You deserve it.

And I'm still impressed with Gavin's creativity!


Monday, 16 June 2008

"Help!" - Beatles, 1965

We have a love/hate relationship with a large plant outside the front door of our house. It was there when we moved in. Judging from its size, it's been living there for a long time. Here are some photos...

(Click on any of the images for a full-sized version.)

Why do we hate it? Well, when it isn't blooming, it's isn't especially attractive. That's particularly true when it's been pruned back to woody stems. It's untidy looking. But then what do we like about it? Well, when it blooms (like right now), it's really beautiful. And the leaves have a pungent but interesting scent...especially when crushed.

I suspect it might be a Russian Sage. Can anybody help me with this one?

I'm going to send a note to my blogger friend at the Zanthan Gardens blog -- she knows everything!


Sunday, 15 June 2008

"Father and Daughter" - Paul Simon, 2006

Happy Fathers Day to my family members, friends, and readers of Lord Celery! I wish all of you a wonderful day...with all those you love.


Saturday, 14 June 2008

"The Real Pro" - Paul Newman, 1998

I was shocked and saddened by the sudden death of NBC's Tim Russert, who had a heart attack while at work in Washington yesterday. He was only 58.

Russert was one of my all-time favorite journalists and television presenters. His Sunday morning "Meet the Press" programs were a highlight of my weekends while living in the States. And after John bought me a video iPod last Christmas, I discovered that podcasts of his programs were downloadable from MSNBC each week. I can't claim to have watched each and every one since I scheduled them for weekly downloads, but I watched a lot of them. Russert's programs, with their (in my opinion) exceptionally well-balanced coverage, kept me from feeling so far away from my home country during an especially fascinating presidential primary season.

Here are a couple of links -- CNN's coverage (which includes some video links), and a wonderful article from the "Washington Post" by columnist Tom Shales.

My deepest sympathy to the Russert family and to his friends and colleagues. He'll certainly be missed by loads of us. He was a real pro.


Friday, 13 June 2008

"Missing" - Everything But the Girl, 1994

Missing: one of my earrings.

Please take a close look at the image below. If you should see the fugitive, please encourage it to return to me.

I guess it was tired of hanging around with its identical twin and decided to see what life would be like as a singleton.

My little friend, I miss you. Please come home.


Wednesday, 11 June 2008

"Way Back Fifties" - African Jazz Pioneers, 1994

I've been listening to a recording of one of Bob Harris' Saturday night shows on BBC Radio 2 this week, during my commute to/from Oxford. One of the songs he played on a show from end-May was a song that I remember hearing a lot in our house when I was a kid -- a real favorite of mine --"Book of Love" by the Monotones. I still have the old 45 record of the song...somewhere!

But what completely blew me away was Bob's comment that "Book of Love" had been a hit in the UK during the same week 50 years ago!

There's just nothing else to say about that, is there...?


Tuesday, 10 June 2008

"Better Look Out" - Andrew Kreider, 2005

There are a lot of British road signs which make me chuckle. This is one of my favorites...

Recently, hiding in our back garden at home, we found the "heavy plant". John is about 6'1". So you can see that the plant is quite tall, too.

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)


Sunday, 8 June 2008

"Guitar Town" - Steve Earle, 1986

(Click on the image for a full-sized version.)

Last night, Oxford was guitar town for us.

John and I went to Oxford's Carling Academy to see Steve Earle perform. It was a fantastic experience! His opening act was his wife Allison Moorer, a fine singer/songwriter herself. (And am I the only one in the world who didn't know that Allison is the younger sister of singer Shelby Lynne?)

The venue does not allow "professional cameras" but does (wisely) allow the smaller variety. So if you'd like to see an assortment of shots I took last night, you can go to my Smugmug gallery and take a look. (Gavin, just for you, I tried to get a shot of every single stringed instrument Steve played...although some of the shots are better than others.)

We thoroughly enjoyed the show! And if you look at the photo I shot down into the audience, you'll see that we certainly weren't the oldest people there....unlike John's excursion to the same venue to see the Ting Tings a few weeks back!


Thursday, 5 June 2008

"Spooky" - Classics IV, 1968

Sorry for the quiet period. I was in London from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday evening, as I was teaching classes there Monday and Tuesday. I got back into the office midday yesterday.

Last week, two of my colleagues were at a conference in Bahrain. They brought back some goodies for the office...including a container of Arabic coffee.

I didn't have time yesterday to take a closer look at what was in the kitchen. But I did this morning. And it really spooked me when I took a close look at the coffee container.

Anybody read Arabic? What does it say in the bubble?