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Bits and pieces

July 21, 2010

In other words, random thoughts and banalities good and bad, none of which are quite big enough to flesh out a post on their own.

Department of Washing Up, I: Discovered that the way to get dried-on rice-pudding marks (you know, the sort of tideline where the skin meets the sides) off the dish without damaging the dish or anything else is to scrape them with a plastic bottletop. Worked like a charm.

Department of Washing Up, II: Also discovered that cornflour-based batter sticks like concrete, and (being cornflour) becomes more solid when you try and lever/scrub it away.

Department of Music: The verses of Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” (video, lyrics) are just about in iambic pentameter. It’s hard to make out in the song because the lines are so spread out – as much spoken as sung – but I think the pattern of stresses is there, and I think it’s deliberate. It’s probably most visible in the verse that goes Remember me? I used to live for music; / Remember me? I brought your groce-ries in; / It’s Father’s Day, and ev’rybody’s wounded (etc.) The verses also alternate feminine and masculine end-words, like Kipling’s “If…”, and therefore – like “If…” – can be sung to the tune of “Danny Boy”. No, seriously. I just had a go. It’s very strange.

Department of Getting Older: My parents are currently living several thousand miles away on another continent. I turned 21 recently and they sent me a bouquet of roses via Interflora. I ended up sobbing on J. Guess I’m not coping quite as well with independence as I thought I was.

Department of Being Let Down by Comedians You Like: Asked on Mock the Week to come up with ‘bad things to hear on a first date’, Russell Howard duly came out with “The last time I was in this nightclub, I was still a man!” – complete with bizarre walk and squeaky falsetto. When did he start doing lazy, bigoted jokes? Or has this happened before and I never noticed? (Sadly, it’s probably the latter, both because transphobia in comedy is depressingly common and because I’m still not great at recognising it in less blatant forms than this.) Another one for the unfunny list, I guess; I hear there’s a space next to Frankie “Disabled Children Are Hilarious” Boyle.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Paul Skinner permalink
    July 21, 2010 1:12 pm

    On washing up:
    I recently discovered if you just let everything soak in the sink straight after you’ve cooked everything becomes much, much easier later when you’re probably hungover.

    On continents:
    Which of you or your parents are on a different continent (i.e. Not Europe) these days then?

    On Russell Howard:
    Yeah, that was lazy and unfunny. It’s certainly not very often with him though.
    It’s still undeniably a bad line to open with for anyone in any situation…
    He’s nowhere near Boyle though.

  2. July 21, 2010 1:33 pm

    Washing up: Yes, but the sink then gets unspeakably horrible when it ends up full of (to take a representative sample from today’s load) bits of rice, bits of rice pudding rind, cheese, coagulating batter, and mutant pasta.

    Parents: Mine are in New Zealand.

    Russell Howard: Even for comics for whom random bigotry is out of character, it’s still depressing. Maybe worse, actually – you can sort of screen out the full-on moonbats wholesale, but when someone you thought was okay does it, you’re caught off guard.

    Like Patrick Stewart getting pissed and insulting James Corden at that awards ceremony: it was much, much worse because Stewart usually has such gravitas and well, it was just stupid, and embarrassing, and disappointing.

  3. Paul Skinner permalink
    July 21, 2010 2:12 pm

    Washing up: Heh, that reminds me of Withnail & I.

    Withnail: Right, you fucker, I’m going to do the washing up!
    Marwood: No, no, you can’t. It’s impossible, I swear it. I’ve looked into it. Listen to me, listen to me! There are things in there, there’s a tea-bag growing! You haven’t slept in sixty hours, you’re in no state to tackle it. Wait till the morning, we’ll go in together.
    Withnail: This IS the morning. Stand aside!
    Marwood: You don’t understand. I think there may be something alive.
    Withnail: What do you mean? a rat?
    Marwood: It’s possible, it’s possible.
    Withnail: Then the fucker will rue the day!
    Withnail: Aargh!
    Marwood: I told you. You’ve been bitten!
    Withnail: Burnt! Burnt! The fucking kettle’s on fire!
    Marwood: There’s something floating up.
    Withnail: FORK IT!

    Patrick Stewart: Meh. One bad day isn’t going to make me put him on a list of people I now no longer like. James Cordon however…

  4. Seamus permalink
    July 21, 2010 9:09 pm

    And then there’s the bit that begins “You loved me as a loser, but now you’re worried that I just might win”, which is in heptameter, unless you’re singing Kid Harpoon’s version, in which case an added vulgarism in the second line turns it into the octametric “You know the way to stop me but you don’t have the fucking discipline”. Also, the pentametric verses end with a line in hexameter. Cohen = Spenser?

  5. Seamus permalink
    July 22, 2010 8:03 pm

    Trying again:

    This is not really a comment; it’s something that’s got me excited and I need to tell someone about, and it’s sort of relevant because it concerns a Leonard Cohen song. Also, it touches on something akin to the stuff of Le ton beau de Marot, and I figured you’d want to hear about it.

    So, basically: I’ve been learning Spanish, and so turned for practice to the only Spanish-language book in my house, Poems of Federico García Lorca in parallel text. The first pleasing discovery I made was that Lorca (whom I’d previously thought of as a poet with good moments but not much to my taste) is actually utterly brilliant yet difficult to convey in English. The second is the incredible dexterity with which Leonard Cohen did just that, when he translated Pequeño vals vienés for his song “Take this Waltz”.

    The Spanish is here and two English versions (Cohen on the left, nameless literal translator on the right) can be found here, but I want to draw your attention to a couple of phrases that show just what a master Cohen is. First there’s this phrase of Lorca’s —

    Hay una muerte para piano
    que pinta de azul a los muchachos.

    — (“There is a death for piano which paints the boys blue”), which LC freely Cohenises as

    There’s a bar where the boys have stopped talking,
    they’ve been sentenced to death by the blues.

    But the most beautiful piece of interpretation, según yo, is the way LC renders the phrase la danza que sueña la tortuga (“the dance the turtle dreamed of”). In “Take this Waltz”, it becomes “a cry filled with footsteps and sand”. Which took me a moment to connect with la tortuga, and then after I did, my jaw pretty much just hit the floor.

    Anyway. Just thought I’d share this with you. Hope you like it. Oh, one last link: it seems a Spanish singer has done the obvious, and sung Lorca’s original Spanish to Cohen’s tune. Here it is.

  6. Seamus permalink
    July 23, 2010 9:41 am

    Sod. HTML mistake. I missed the closing ” from the a href tag. In the third paragraph, I meant it to say “two English versions … can be found here.

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