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Under The Volcano

January 24, 2010


The annals of history and of literature are rich with evocations of drinking and drunkeness: from the Sumerians (whose Ninkasi was the goddess of alcohol) to the ancient Egyptians (surviving 18th dynasty texts mourn the time when, due to old age or death, a person is unable to drink); from the Hebrews ( Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging Proverbs 20:1) to the Greeks (who created a god, Dionysus, just for sauce-monkeys); from Petronius to Rabelais to Villon to Rimbaud to Dylan Thomas to Kingsley Amis to Mowbray: mankind has always enjoyed its gargle.

Drinking has been hymned by Nordic skalds, Welsh bards, Irish ollaves, cavalier poets, Restoration poets, Georgian poets, Victorian poets, Modernists, Surrealists, Futurists, Dadaists and doggerelists.

I want you to follow in the grand tradition: take up thy cup and lurch. Give us some verse on the demon drink.

  1. January 24, 2010 2:42 PM

    Hello Mish,

    Here’s my humble entry for your demon alcohol challenge.

    Actually I don’t drink these days for reasons medical and practical, but meanwhile have settled on another, more likely candidate for the root of all evil.

    Regards to one and all.

  2. pinkroom permalink
    January 24, 2010 3:47 PM

    For that bloke who used to sit in the corner

    I once used to be a social drinker,
    I drank to find a little company.
    I once used to stop for just one or two,
    now I can’t just stop for one, two or three.
    That’s me over there, in the corner seat
    with my newspaper and long, white beard
    and moustache, with the yellow-brown stripe through
    left by the Holborn I smoke with my beers.
    I’ll play chess or backgammon with any one,
    or just pass through the time; whatever goes;
    my spectacles make my eyes look so big,
    they fill up the lenses; my jaundice shows.
    I’m part of the furniture, the staff joke
    dying on my arse, y’know him,
    that bloke.

  3. 3P4 permalink
    January 24, 2010 4:45 PM

    can’t believe you did not list Omar K

    keep your
    i prefer

  4. January 24, 2010 5:00 PM

    The room gets smaller
    The voice gets louder
    The drinks get bolder
    The food gets saltier
    The opinions get odder
    The aim gets dodgier
    The room gets louder
    The voice gets odder
    The drinks get dodgier
    The food gets bolder
    The opinions get saltier
    The aim gets smaller

  5. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 24, 2010 10:30 PM

    Edgar Allan Poe addresses la fée verte

    No bright pond was bright as thee
    or held a kingdom in its sea
    (of all those poets you drag down
    to your glazed, eternal town).
    I see us now in depths of you
    approaching fanes in queue by queue,
    to suckle verse at your green breast
    and suffer prosody’s cruel test.
    I watch the sugar melt in you
    and cloud your verdant jewel hue
    until you’re dull as any fog
    and your only song is snap of dog.
    Yet, my verse will see me out, Green Thief,
    though I wither and ash like autumn leaf.

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  6. Captain Ned permalink
    January 24, 2010 11:37 PM

    Song of the Barfly

    Come on now, mister, step into this bar;
    I see by your face you’ve come from afar.
    I’ll show you salvation under a star:
    It’s that bright neon light you’ve been eyein’.

    You’ve travelled a weary, worrisome road;
    Been through more troubles than Job ever knowed;
    Well, this here’s the place where comfort is stowed,
    So sit down on that stool, and stop cryin’.

    Some folks will tell you that liquor’s impure;
    They’ve seen no hardships they’ve had to endure.
    When life is your poison, I’ve got the cure;
    So let’s start with a beer: my throat’s dryin’.

    Now, drinkin’ too much won’t get you reprieved –
    That’s what those deadbeats in ditches believed.
    Don’t trust no barkeep, ’cause you’ll be deceived:
    Ain’t none of ’em can speak without lyin’.

    Dame Drink is a sweetheart hidin’ a knife;
    Hold onto your wits, and you’ll have no strife.
    To be without booze – ’tain’t no kind of life:
    There’s just too much damn toil, so quit tryin’.

    My gospel’s the bottle; it set me free.
    Now I’m a preacher, and preachin’ on thee:
    Sobriety’s sinnin’, plain as can be.
    So I’ll have a whisky, and you’re buyin’.

  7. Captain Ned permalink
    January 24, 2010 11:44 PM

    Mishari – could you amend line 17 to ‘Dame Drink is a sweetheart etc’? Thanks. [Done-Ed.]

    I suspect that this is a subject close to the heart of many PH regulars…

  8. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 12:04 AM

    The usual high standards from everyone. Great work.

    I was working on my own paltry effort when, in the course of searching for something or other, I came across a website set up by a group of young Kuwaiti doctors. It contained the following, which has shocked me so profoundly that I’m having trouble concentrating on anything else:

    The World Health Organization lists Kuwait as the 8th fattest country in the world with a 74.2% prevalence of overweight individuals, behind Nauru (94.5%), Federated States of Micronesia (91.1%), Cook Islands (90.9%), Tonga (90.8%), Niue (81.7%), Samoa (80.4%) and Palau (78.4%). This small group of Pacific Island countries has a genetic propensity for larger muscular physiques, and abdominal fatness has long been considered a symbol of wealth and prosperity for Pacific Islanders.

    Second to this cluster of small Pacific Islands is Kuwait. We are heavier than the Americans and report the highest rate of obesity of all Gulf Arab countries. We have the highest prevalence of hypertension and elevated cholesterol levels in all the Gulf region and we rank 5th for the global prevalence of diabetes behind Nauru, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Small-scale national studies report that only 2 – 5% of our population is physically active despite the fact that International Diabetes Federation tells us that up to 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.

    The situation is now dire and is, incredibly, getting even worse. Obesity prevalence rates, especially in children, continue to increase, not to mention the number of newly diagnosed diabetes cases which are occurring every month. Until we direct some effort at treating ‘the causes of the causes’ (why we are eating too much, moving too little and what we must do to reverse this), the situation can only be expected to get worse and the socio-economic consequences will be nothing short of catastrophic.

    Kuwaitis are getting fatter and sicker simply by living in the Kuwait of today. Our environment can best be described as an ‘obesogenic’ environment, i.e. one that encourages obesity rather than healthy eating and active lifestyles.

    In truth, one could see it coming a long time ago–even 30 years ago, Kuwaitis were becoming soft and flabby. But this? 75% obesity? Even more depressing, after a bit of quick research, I discovered that those WHO figures are a few years old and that the figure now is over 80% obesity and 75% of Kuwaitis have Type 2 diabetes. 75%.

    Dear God. When I was a boy, it was remarkable to see a fat Kuwaiti and I mean ‘remarkable’ in the most precise sense: people remarked on it.

    On a happier note, I see Martin Amis has landed himself in the shit:

    Now 60, Amis has picked a fight with the grey power of Britain’s ageing population, calling for euthanasia “booths” on street corners where they can terminate their lives with “a martini and a medal”.

    The author of Time’s Arrow and London Fields said in an interview at the weekend that he believes Britain faces a “civil war” between young and old, as a “silver ­tsunami” of increasingly ageing people puts pressure on society.

    “They’ll be a population of demented very old people, like an invasion of terrible immigrants, stinking out the restaurants and cafes and shops,” he said. “I can imagine a sort of civil war between the old and the young in 10 or 15 years’ time.–The Grauniad, today

    If there is a civil war between the young and the old, I have a pretty fair idea of who’ll win. The fathomless ignorance of today’s yoof dooms them. I can make a thermite bomb out of common household products. I know how to fashion a compound-bow. I can live on squirrels and poet-flesh.

    The average yoof can’t find Britain on an atlas.

    I’ll miss them, to be sure; with their incessant text-messaging, their skinny jeans and gelled-hair, their puppy-ish conviction that every bunch of talentless Beatle-imitators they encounter is ‘like, toadly, original, dood…’.

    Actually, you know what? Fuck ’em…I won’t miss them at all.

    Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
    Or close the wall up with teenage dead.
    In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
    As modest stillness and humility:
    But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
    Then imitate the action of the tiger;
    Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
    Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
    Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
    Let pry through the portage of the head
    Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
    As fearfully as doth a galled rock
    O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
    Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.

  9. Captain Ned permalink
    January 25, 2010 12:27 AM

    Are we to assume that the pensionable Amis will the first to volunteer himself for his proposed suicide booths? If so, the idea has my support.

  10. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 25, 2010 12:43 AM

    Hi Mish

    if it’s okay with you, would you please change the title of my humble sonnet to:

    Edgar Allan Poe addresses la fée verte [Done-Ed.]

    Jack Brae

  11. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 12:56 AM

    Came across a lightbulb joke I’d not heard before:

    How may Freudians does it take to change a lightbulb?

    Two: one to screw the bulb and one to hold the penis… I mean the stepladder.

  12. January 25, 2010 9:15 AM

    Mishari I wouldn’t worry I was on CiF yesterday and one comment had a list of statistics amongst which was one that claimed the UK was the most feckless country in the EC or at least was in the top 3 (it wasn’t clear). I would have loved to have seen the research for that one.

  13. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 25, 2010 11:23 AM

    Excellent poems up there. My mind is a blank.

    I’m thinking of emigrating to Kuwait.

  14. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 1:59 PM

    Thanks for trying to cheer me up, Al, but statistics on ‘fecklessness’ are a joke. Sadly, obesity and diabetes are phenomena that can actually be measured, plotted and graphed. Really, it just confirms what my eyes and anecdotal evidence have been saying for years. It’s the extent of it that’s appalled me.

    Kuwait has been ruined by the rapid acquisition of great wealth and the equally rapid abandonment of the old ways. Come to think of it, they’ve been feckless…

  15. January 25, 2010 2:54 PM

    mishari I understand that the population of Hawaii and Honolulu have been affected severely by diabetes too.

    Some people say it’s the Americans who have brought bad diet onto both of those islands with resulting obesity which causes diabetes – the body has to produce enough insulin to break down sugar in all parts of the body. If the body is too big then the bile duct is incapable of producing enough insulin to protect it. If it’s not genetic ( like mine probably is ) then it’s wholly preventable.

    Somebody too put the blame squarely on too much corn syrup in every kind of foods which puts the insulin under further satrain but no doubt as befits any research these days there will be counter arguments to this.

    Diabetes isn’t the end of the world but you do have to reduce your feckless attitude to what you eat.

  16. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 3:42 PM

    The theory is, Al, that peninsular Arabs are especially susceptible to obesity for one very simple reason: millenia of adapting to life as desert nomads.

    Their bodies are especially efficient at converting excess calories to fat. In the past, it didn’t matter because the fat times–when gazelle were plentiful, when truffles and bustard were abundant, when raiding was good, etc–were few and far between. Any fat was soon burned off by the lean times that were the usual lot of desert tribes.

    Now, however, there are no lean times, so the fat piles on and stays on. The fact that the majority of Kuwaitis seem likely to lose the use of their legs at some point in the future due to never moving more than 50 yards under their own steam doesn’t help. General Motors have a lot to answer for…

  17. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 25, 2010 7:25 PM


    Jubilating bottlegreen prismatic
    Imitating bluebottle brilliance
    Surveying vistas cinematic
    Measuring window’s resilience

    Observing clatter-all dommage
    Visiting casualty xxxx-ray
    Excusing scattershot collage
    Regretting itallthe nextday

  18. January 25, 2010 8:25 PM

    The drunker I sit here
    The longer I get
    Nodding agreement
    Has become tete a tete.

    Reproduce like rabbits,
    Crisp consumption
    The work of gannets.

    Just when it seems
    You’re on your last legs
    You’re back from the bar
    With the pickled eggs,

    Two double vodkas,
    Two pints of beer,
    An optimistic smile
    Stretches ear to ear.

    Wuh..Once more money
    Puh..poured down the drain
    Cuh..come next Friday,
    Buh..back here again.

  19. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 9:11 PM

    Dictionaries have been removed from classrooms in southern California schools after a parent complained about a child reading the definition for “oral sex”.

    Merriam Webster’s 10th edition, which has been used for the past few years in fourth and fifth grade classrooms (for children aged nine to 10) in Menifee Union school district, has been pulled from shelves over fears that the “sexually graphic” entry is “just not age appropriate”, according to the area’s local paper.

    The dictionary’s online definition of the term is “oral stimulation of the genitals”. “It’s hard to sit and read the dictionary, but we’ll be looking to find other things of a graphic nature,” district spokeswoman Betti Cadmus told the paper. – The Grauniad, today

    High time, too. Only prompt action on the part of alert citizens like Ms. Cadmus can prevent our children from sinking into the moral quicksand that is language. I hope she strikes out other offensive words like ‘coitus’, ‘homosexual’, ‘lesbian’, ‘revolution’, ‘subversion’, ‘liberty’, ‘conscience, ‘assault rifle’ and ‘mowbray’.

    I don’t think I’m being overly sanguine when I predict that children who grow up shielded from such filth will doubtless create a paradise on earth. You go, Betti-with-an-‘i’…

  20. freep permalink
    January 25, 2010 10:58 PM

    On the Folly of Intemperance, and Against the Imprudent Consumption of Spirituous Liquors. By One Who Seen the Consequence of Rash Tippling.

    See! Where the drivelling toper lolls in pain,
    And louts degraded bark their manic cries;
    Lo! The tattoo’d loafer tries to stand in vain,
    And down in the gutter, speechless, bloated lies.

    Fermented grain has robb’d their minds of reason;
    Vile ALCOHOL their judgment has o’erthrown;
    They laid their bodies’ kingdoms prone to treason,
    Yes, to treason they have laid their bodies prone. *

    Had they only ope’d their maws to purest WATER,
    Eschew’d the venom brewed by darkest fiends;
    The period of their pain would have been shorter,
    Their minds and holy bodies been well cleaned.

    So, friends, desist from pois’nous imbibitions;
    The temple of thy body worship well.
    ‘Tis wise to keep your liver in condition,
    And avoid the dipsomanic road to Hell.

    (* The restatement of a forceful moral in this manner is characteristic of the best models of poetry in all times and cultures)

  21. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2010 11:32 PM

    I’m sold, freep…I’ll never touch another drop. That’s the power of poetry, folks.

  22. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 26, 2010 11:31 PM

    My third alcohol poem goes in the bin. I need a drink.

  23. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:06 AM

    Would it be true to say, mishari, that yesterday was the first anniversary of the creation, foundation, institution and invention of that noble organ, Politely Homicidal? If true, a slightly belated happy birthday, and thanks for an excellent playroom.

  24. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 10:10 AM

    You know, you’re absolutely right, freep. I must summon my court composer, Johann Sebastian Mowbray, and have him compose some suitably festive music. Let joy be unconfined…

  25. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:52 AM

    Johnny, you are long and slender,
    pale amber and cool to the touch,
    your gurgling chuckle is tender,
    Johnny, do I love you too much?

    Your kiss is like fire on my lips,
    your quintessence burns in my brain,
    as consciousness finally slips
    I hug you fiercely again.

    When I wake in the light of day
    you’re more to me than anyone,
    but your space is cold and empty,
    Johnny Walker, where have you gone?

  26. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 27, 2010 10:54 AM

    Right on cue, I see. Many congratulations on your Premier Jubilee, Your Highness. May there be many more.

  27. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 11:00 AM

    Thank you, JSM…most fitting.

    freep, as a McGonnagiggle fan, I expect you’re familiar with the work of Julia Moore, ‘The Sweet Singer of Michigan’ (sic)?

    Ashtabula Disaster

    Have you heard of the dreadful fate
    Of Mr. P. P. Bliss and wife?
    Of their death I will relate,
    And also others lost their life;
    Ashtabula Bridge disaster,
    Where so many people died
    Without a thought that destruction
    Would plunge them ‘neath the wheel of tide.


    Swiftly passed the engine’s call,
    Hastening souls on to death,
    Warning not one of them all;
    It brought despair right and left.

    Among the ruins are many friends,
    Crushed to death amidst the roar;
    On one thread all may depend,
    And hope they’ve reached the other shore.
    P. P. Bliss showed great devotion
    To his faithful wife, his pride,
    When he saw that she must perish,
    He died a martyr by her side.

    P. P. Bliss went home above —
    Left all friends, earth and fame,
    To rest in God’s holy love;
    Left on earth his work and name.
    The people love his work by numbers,
    It is read by great and small,
    He by it will be remembered,
    He has left it for us all.

    His good name from time to time
    Will rise on land and sea;
    It is known in distant climes,
    Let it echo wide and free.
    One good man among the number,
    Found sweet rest in a short time,
    His weary soul may sweetly slumber
    Within the vale, heaven sublime.

    Destruction lay on every side,
    Confusion, fire and despair;
    No help, no hope, so they died,
    Two hundred people over there.
    Many ties was there broken,
    Many a heart was filled with pain,
    Each one left a little token,
    For above they live again.

    More of the divine Julia’s verse HERE

  28. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 12:09 PM

    Mish, she is my third favourite poet. I cannot remove the heroism of Mr P.P.Bliss from my mind. My first and second favourite poets are Milton and Henry Kirke White, who wrote:

    … Now, when athwart the gloom gaunt horrour stalks,
    And midnight hags their damned vigils hold,
    The pensive Poet ‘mid the wild waste walks,
    And ponders o’er the ills life’s paths unfold ….

    which seems to me to strike the proper tone for the poet.

    If it were not for the correctness in verse which White, Moore and McGonagall established, we should all be writing about optimistic subjects such as Eating Smarties in My New Ford Focus, or How I Fixed the Clutch on My Mountford Lawnmower. Or even My Dogg’s Experience of Kindness at the Hands of Miss J.V. Golightly, MRCVS.
    No. We must have Gloom, Disaster, Dejection and Cosmicity or nothing.
    I am pleased to note that one of Julia Moore’s favourite subjects is Temperance.

  29. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 12:22 PM

    True, freep. I can’t imagine the divine Julia having any sympathy for the late Dee Anthony:

    He had three rules for success. The first was ‘always get the money’, the second was ‘don’t forget to always get the money, every time’ and the third was ‘don’t forget that, whatever else you’ve done, to make sure you get the money’.

    Ian Anderson, speaking of Jethro Tull’s former manager (recently deceased) Dee Anthony

  30. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 1:13 PM

    Compare and contrast the following with the mealy-mouthed, pious, sanctimonious platitudes of those corporate hand-maidens and shills, Obama and Brown:

    For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent.

    For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up.We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.

    Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred. I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.

    -Franklin Delano Roosevelt announcing the Second New Deal in a speech at Madison Square Garden, October 31, 1936

  31. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 2:33 PM

    What a fellow that FDR was. There is no British politician to compare since Gladstone.

    Here is my birthday present for yesterday. It owes something to the divine Julia. I expect donations to the Temperance Association to climb steeply.

    A Melancholy Tale of the First Homicide, and an Explanation of the Public Clamour in Favour of Excise Duties

    It was a most unfortunate day when Cain first tasted malt,
    For that was when his moral progress came to a sudden halt.
    His parents never thought to ban, or even to prohibit
    The rash ingestion of Garlic Pringles washed down with Glenlivet.

    Blinded by sinful rage and trembling with insobriety,
    Cain (a man denied sage counselling and the favours of psychiatry)
    Lifted his bestial arm, with liquor from his lips a-dribbling,
    And with a gory bludgeon he did smite his gentle sibling.

    O! Abel lay in blood so dark, in dark blood he lay dying,
    And Eve his mam, and Adam pere, they just could not stop crying.
    ‘You’ve gone too far, son,’ Adam brayed, ‘A brother you have slain.
    Just look! The carpet’s ruined now, you beastly blackguard Cain!’

    But Cain he took no notice of his ineffectual pa,
    But slouched down Eden High Street and walked into Batty’s Bar:
    ‘A pint of dark, a double nip and fifteen pickled eggs’
    The barman said: ‘ You seem a little bit unsteady on your legs …

    And what’s that large unsightly patch of red upon your smock?’
    ‘Just gimme Scotch, or with this knife I will lop off your cock …
    Now reach up there and place down here that famous Scottish bottle.
    I’m Cain, and I drink, and saucy barmen I just love to throttle …’

    The barman short obliged the boor, but hit the panic button.
    In walked the fuzz: ‘I see young Cain, for drink you’re quite a glutton.
    Now can you explain the grievous pain you’ve caused unto your parents,
    Who say that your behaviour has exhausted their forebearance?’

    By now the murd’rous slaughterer had drunk deep many litres,
    And furrows deep and frenzied fits distorted all his features.
    ‘I’ll have another liddle one, and then a couple more,
    Don’t ask me no more questions, or I’ll kick you out the door,

    And then I’ll kill your brothers too, with this my favourite knife;
    But if you share a drink with me, I might just spare your life.’
    ‘Observe my uniform, foolish wight, my name is PC Fairclough,
    And be so good as to place your hands inside these iron handcuffs.’

    The end had come. And Justice fair peeped out from ‘hind the clouds.
    Weeks later, bloody Cain was gallowed roughly, and the crowds,
    They shouted loud and feelingly: ‘Let us put large taxes on whisky,
    For to drink such a very great deal of booze is most emphatically risky.’

  32. January 27, 2010 3:15 PM

    After those last 2 sermons from Mt.Freep I don’t know whether to abstain or drink myself stupid.

    Fairclough, hand-cuffs: marvellous stuff ( did you see what I did there etc. etc. )

    Poetic resistance seems futile so instead Happy Birthday Politely Homicidal.

    • Polly permalink
      January 27, 2010 8:18 PM

      Sorry I missed the birthday celebrations… do we get cake?

      I had no idea this was such a fledgling venture when I blundered in back in February (ish), I got the impression that you’d all known each other for years and felt rather privileged that you didn’t mind me hanging about sometimes. So thanks for having me (doesn’t that phrase always sound rude?) and long may this blog continue!

      I think it’s pretty much unique in my blogging experience so far actually in the fact that there is a topic, but no-one sticks to it and anyone can say anything and chat really is free form.

  33. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 3:52 PM

    freep is Northumberland’s answer to Carrie Nation with a touch of the GB Shaw about him. Later this evening, I shall slink toward a bottle, casting surreptitious glances over my shoulder to make sure freep’s not watching, and pour myself a stiff drink. I’m going to need it after that lot. The man’s a menace to the drinking classes.

    BTW, Al…I began watching the new Gilliam last night but was torn away about 15 minutes in. It looks quite promising, ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ it’s called. Do you fancy a copy?

  34. January 27, 2010 4:55 PM

    Why not? Thanks.

    Does any Michael Haneke ever cross your downloading path? Have heard great things about The White Ribbon.

  35. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 5:11 PM

    Actually, Al, I have The White Ribbon but haven’t found the time to watch it. I’ll stick that on as well…

  36. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 5:19 PM

    That Wiki entry on Carrie Nation was wonderful, Mish. I knew the name, but had not appreciated what a magnificent battleaxe she was. I shall raise a glass of 20 year old Glenfarclas to her memory tonight.
    The White Ribbon I saw a month or so ago, al. It’s a great film, of enormous subtlety. Haneke is a director in the great German tradition, quite the equal of Fassbinder and Herzog. It’s set in 1913 in an obscure German village, where the village children lurk in a kind of conspiracy, whose object and methods are never spelt out precisely, but which clearly foreshadows dark things in the German psyche. See it. It has the same kind of elusive and allusive qualities you find in W G Sebald’s books.
    I rather like the series on the Romantic poets on the GU books blog. Carol does a good job, even if she does mistake Byron for a proper poet rather than a playboy with a rhyming dictionary.

  37. January 27, 2010 5:55 PM


    About The White Ribbon, it’s a magisterial work, easily the best film I saw last year.

    Posted on it twice, here and here.

  38. January 27, 2010 5:59 PM

    supoib and the round of approval from TC and freep will make it all the more anticipated.

    TC? Blimey I’m carrying on like Benny the Ball now.

  39. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:04 PM

    I know, freep. She’s a pippin, isn’t she? I especially loved these bits:

    Her methods escalated from simple protests to greeting bartenders with pointed remarks like “Good morning, destroyer of men’s souls”, to serenading saloon patrons with hymns on a hand organ.

    Dissatisfied with the results of her efforts, Nation began to pray to God for direction. On June 5, 1900 she felt she received her answer in the form of a heavenly vision.

    Responding to the revelation, Nation gathered several rocks – “smashers”, she called them – and proceeded to Dobson’s Saloon.

    Announcing “Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard’s fate”, she began to destroy the saloon’s stock with her cache of rocks. After she similarly destroyed two other saloons in Kiowa, a tornado hit eastern Kansas which she took as divine approval of her actions.

    Alone or accompanied by hymn-singing women she would march into a bar and sing and pray while smashing bar fixtures and stock with a hatchet.

    Pointed remarks, indeed…

  40. January 27, 2010 6:12 PM


    Out of the several dozen Oscar screeners we looked at (mostly chaff), The White Ribbon stood out.

    But there were two other pictures in the lot very much worth the time — “sleepers” one might say — viz. this and this.

    There was also a consistent run of the usual (or perhaps even worse than usual) Hollywood disasters, the worst offender being Avatar. Pure unmitigated unendurable CGI adult video game trash.

    • Polly permalink
      January 27, 2010 8:28 PM

      Do I come across as mindless when I say I loved Avatar. I was enthralled in it. Tom did you have the glasses on??

      I don’t like games much, I particularly cannot stand any of these Medal of Honour ones – it strikes me as sick to make war into a mindless game – so I didn’t think it was akin to a game really.

      I saw a trailer for a film yesterday which made me incredibly annoyed, and I wonder whether I’m unreasonable in this, but it was a film about the South African rugby team promoting cohesion after the abolition of apartheid and the election of Nelson Mandela, so far so good, but they have Morgan Freeman as Mandela (who mostly gets the accent right) and bloody Matt Bloody Damon as Francoise Pinar. Why won’t Hollywood go “off formula”? Why not have South African actors to play South Africans? – who the hell is impressed with Matt Damon anyway? This just seems really unimaginative, that’s when films seem churned out and unendurable, when they’ve tried to shoe-horn famous actors in to roles which make the whole film seem pretty cheap and meaningless. Freeman is good, but was there no-one else? Surprised they didn’t just black up John Hurt or bloody Ian McKellan. I film doesn’t seem to be worth making at the moment unless he’s in it!

      I like the new format by the way – nice font.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 27, 2010 10:53 PM

      My son gave me an XBox for Christmas ( mainly so he can use it when he’s here, no doubt ), and I enjoy a blast on Call of Duty. I haven’t played a shooter since Half-Life 2, which I dumped because it was so boring – nice weapons, but hours of trailing pointlessly about. Call of Duty has a better gore quotient. Recommended.

  41. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 6:29 PM

    Those are excellent reviews, Tom, thanks. And I’ll look out for The Messenger.

  42. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 6:32 PM

    Actually, I have both the films Tom reviews on his blog, La mujer sin cabeza and The Messenger. They’re amongst the 40 or 50 films that I’ve yet to find the time to sit down and watch but Tom’s recommendation and freep and Tom’s recommendation of The White Ribbon bumps the three of them to the top of my list. I’ll add them if you like, Al.

    Send me your postal address freep and I’ll pass along copies of the first two, if you like.

  43. January 27, 2010 6:41 PM

    Tom, did you ever catch the documentary about Henry Darger?

    It had the briefest of brief runs in art cinemas over here and I never managed to see it. We had a dreadful Radio 4 programme about him over here last summer which was more interested in depicting him as a pervert than exploring the extraordinary world that he dreamt up. Have heard that the doc. is sympathetic and good but wondered if it had crossed your path.

  44. January 27, 2010 6:43 PM

    Mishari That would be very kind – it’s cold up here so ideal weather to sit indoors and watch good films

  45. January 27, 2010 6:50 PM


    Yes, the Darger doc is fascinating indeed.

    He’s been a secret hero of mine for thirty-five years. I once found a photo of the interior of his apartment, with the collections of comic books and other paraphenalia, religious votive objects, etc., all set off in a shadowy penumbra contained in an atmosphere of suffocating
    claustrophobia. His spooky private creative paradise.

    I wanted to paint him in that room but he wasn’t in the photo so instead I painted Joan Miro, sitting in Henry Darger’s chair in Darger’s apartment. With lots of bilous green washes, so the whole painting has a sort of sickly umbral submarine cast. What I imagined to be a quintessential “Henry Darger light”.

  46. freep permalink
    January 27, 2010 7:03 PM

    Thanks very much, mishari, have sent you my postal address to a gmail address I had for you…

  47. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 27, 2010 9:50 PM

    The Dangers Of Mixing Drink And Poetry

    I stole three hairs from Freepo’s dogg
    and chewed them to dispell the fog
    of whiskey, vodka, gin and tea,
    (the last a secret recipe),
    and thought the cure so very fine
    I’d steal that dogg and make it mine.
    So one dark night when Mars was high
    I ventured into Freepo’s sty,
    my plan to steal his inspiration
    (and even his cure for constipation);
    but alas for me I made much noise,
    falling on buckets and squeaky toys,
    so that Freep was summoned to the racket
    and brained me dead with an iron bracket.
    So now, a corpse, I write this verse.
    (And stone cold sober, which is worse.)

    Jack Brae Curtingstall

  48. January 27, 2010 10:44 PM

    The sermons from Mt. Freep
    Hit me deeper than skin-deep
    Is my attitude a farce?
    I thought
    Whilst sipping wine from a glass
    I thought.
    The seventh I’d had
    That day
    I’d hoped to drink
    My creative block away.
    In these barren times
    The combination
    Of rhymes,
    Against alcohol’s
    Brought me to my senses
    No more
    Sitting on fences
    No more
    Pitiful defences
    No more
    Wine-soaked pretences
    It’s the hard stuff
    I’m going for.

  49. mishari permalink*
    January 27, 2010 11:06 PM

    As an aficionado of ‘outsider’ art, I was delighted to discover Henry Darger. Fascinating stuff. I’d never heard of him before, so thanks Al and Tom. Reading about Darger led me to The Philadelpia Wireman (of whom I’d also never heard) and his work. I learn something new every day….

    Got your email, freep. Flicks to follow.

    Good poems, Jack and Al.

    BTW, Al, I found the Darger doc (In The Realms Of The Unreal [2004]) and will add that to your bundle

  50. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 28, 2010 7:18 PM

    On The Town With The Legionnaires

    The bar was free, so we gatecrashed
    this wedding in Capernaum,
    we were already pretty smashed
    but passed as Jews by keeping schtum.

    We were on our fourth amphora
    when suddenly the booze ran out.
    Tight Hebrew bastards, says Sulla,
    let’s go down the brothel. Your shout.

    We were on our way to the door
    when the crowd seems to pull in tight,
    and there’s a sudden massive roar.
    Jove, says Marcus, they’ve found a mite.

    The party conjuror had changed
    some jars of water into brew.
    All right, I know it sounds deranged,
    but that’s the fucking Jews for you.

    They passed the stuff around the crowd
    myself I thought I’d go without-
    the bouquet was of dead man’s shroud-
    but Marcus sipped and gobbed it out,

    Mithras, it tastes like fucking piss!
    By now Sulla had downed a pint
    and looked like he was down in Dis,
    his kisser had a greenish tint.

    The shyster comes by, scruffy sod,
    beard and sandals and greasy curls,
    the mob adore him like he’s god.
    Sulla takes a look and then he snarls,

    I’m sodding poisoned and in pain,
    he’s done me with his stupid stunt,
    if I set eyes on him again
    I’ll fucking crucify the cunt.

  51. mishari permalink*
    January 28, 2010 8:02 PM

    Great stuff, MM. A trifecta…you’ve managed to offend Jews, Christians and Romans…oh, yeah: and Betti the language Nazi. She thought Webster’s Dictionary was bit raw. I hope she reads this. Her head’ll explode.

  52. freep permalink
    January 28, 2010 9:46 PM

    ‘The party conjuror’ is good, MM, very good. I shall print it off and keep it as a bookmark at John 2:10; ‘thou hast kept the good wine until now …’

  53. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 28, 2010 11:00 PM

    Thanks… thought I might be able to offend the Arabs as well, but I think they were busy plundering in the desert.

  54. InvisibleJack permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:13 AM

    Even though I am currently dead and waiting for my internal organs to grow back (Jack don’t need no brain in order to write) may I say that Meltdown Mowbray has put us all to shame. Good stuff MM. I’m recommending your poem to the Catholic Truth Society.

    Jack Brae

  55. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 10:28 AM

    Quietly religious, she had an adobe chapel built to her parents’ memory, and imported a buffalo to which, when it seemed depressed, she would play classical music. (It died.) – from the obituary of Paulita Sedgwick, The Indy, today

    She should have played opéra bouffalo…boom-boom.

  56. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 29, 2010 12:09 PM

    Buffaletto is a bovine favourite, I hear. ‘Il bufala e mobile’ goes down very well.

  57. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 29, 2010 12:19 PM

    Do you rate Khomeini’s poetry?

  58. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 12:44 PM

    Khomeini’s poetry? Huh? Don’t tell me…Carol’s blogging about his Romantic verse…

  59. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 29, 2010 1:00 PM

    You can guarantee Mills would hate it.

  60. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 1:16 PM

    OK, I’ve seen the article now. A non-story. It would be very odd indeed for any educated Persian not to be able to write poetry in the classical Persian style.

    The author seems astonished that Khomeini uses Khayam/Firdausi-like tropes. I’d be surprised if he hadn’t. A pointless piece.

  61. January 29, 2010 2:11 PM

    I enjoy Osama Bin Laden’s limericks

    I hate those filthy twin towers
    Symbols of America’s powers
    With a well-aimed airplane
    Notoriety I’ll gain
    But GW won’t send me flowers.

  62. January 29, 2010 2:53 PM

    Imperialism gets on my tits
    I hate those Yankees to bits
    A violent revolution,
    A napalmic* ablution
    Will wash capitalism from my mits

    * translator’s note: I did the best I could with this word

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 29, 2010 3:31 PM

    From Mr Ahmadinejad

    Please don’t call me a liar
    I’m not a holocaust denier
    But what’s that heat
    Around my seat?
    Ouch! My pants are on fire!

  64. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 7:22 PM

    The Ayatollah Khomeini
    Said “Islam has got kind of same-y;
    I’ll love Satan instead
    And go crazy in bed
    With a dancer from Bristol called Mamie”.

  65. January 29, 2010 7:48 PM

    Poems aren’t the Ayatollah’s only vice
    He also makes sculptures from ice
    The private view in a museum
    Melted so quickly you couldn’t see ’em
    The reviews for it weren’t very nice.

    okay officer I’ll come quietly

  66. pinkroom permalink
    January 29, 2010 7:49 PM

    For the love of a drinker

    Come sit down beside me
    and hear my sad story
    buy me a drink
    and I’ll tell you six more,
    for I’m a young lady
    left seven years a-drifting,
    Seven years away from
    her family and home.

    It all began back when
    I worked for a fella,
    a dark-eyed rascal with
    ready a grin
    at lunch he would take me
    out to the Town Tavern
    and stand me a good meal
    and full glass of gin.

    Afternoons became softer,
    the edge off my hard work,
    as I set to mending
    the coats of rich men,
    taken to the desk
    of my lunchtime drink-buyer;
    he’d toss them back to me.
    in my sewer’s den.

    The lunches grew longer,
    his hands became freer,
    the drinks became longer,
    more frequent and strong.
    By the end of the half year,
    we’d fell to the coat-pile,
    behind the dark curtain,
    to do certain wrong.

    “Come, come,
    come away with me
    we shall be married
    come, come,
    come away I have made
    plans to leave
    and start up on our own
    in American Colony.”
    And I did, but he died
    of the drink, I do grieve.

    And soonI will follow,
    from drink and the measles;
    no more can I see,
    to thread or to sew.
    But the love of this husband,
    this drinker, still warms me,
    as down to the flames
    of this new hell I go.

    So sit down beside me
    and hear my sad story
    buy me a drink,
    and I’ll tell you six more
    for I’m a poor lady,
    left seven years lost.
    A world away now
    from her family and home.

  67. freep permalink
    January 29, 2010 8:23 PM

    That made me weep buckets, pinkroom. My bill for Kleenex will follow. Trying to cheer myself up …

    We went on our hols to Waziristan
    To get a good permanent suntan;
    It was worse than I feared;
    A bloke with a beard
    Let down all the tyres on our caravan.

  68. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 8:44 PM

    Jesus, PR…that was a 3-hankie job…melancholy has made me her own. However, the thought of freep caravaning in Waziristan (doubtless with Margaret Beckett) cheered me up…

    Freep, you got off quite lightly
    The Afghans abhor you and rightly
    Next time won’t be your tires
    But the heat of their fires
    As you turn on a spit for them nightly.

  69. pinkroom permalink
    January 29, 2010 9:33 PM

    Sorry guys… gin and norovirus not a great mix really. I was channeling my inner ruined maid.

  70. mishari permalink*
    January 29, 2010 9:45 PM

    Sorry you’re unwell, PR. I can see how a vomiting bug and mother’s ruin would lead to your very good but very sad poem…

  71. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 29, 2010 10:49 PM

    Top poem, PR. Heroin is probably a better fit with norovirus. Quite plentiful at the moment, I hear.

    I hear this chap Bin Laden
    Is actually a maiden
    She wears that beard
    As she’s afeared
    Her womanly charms are fadin’.

  72. pinkroom permalink
    January 30, 2010 8:57 AM

    Thanks for the tip MM

    Advice from Melton Mowbray MD

    A bod down with novovirus,
    can always hope to survive us;
    self-medded smack
    will dry-up their cack,
    but their bog roll becomes papyrus.

  73. January 30, 2010 10:26 AM

    Peanut butter on sandpaper
    A hippopotamus squatting in my brain
    My tongue feels like …not a tongue
    I’m never drinking beer again

    Did I say who to what?
    Is that friend now best avoided?
    Is there now a contract out on me
    To be brutally moidered?

    What’s that thumping sound?
    Like Santana in full flow
    My stomach feels like…. not a stomach
    Excuse me I’ve got to go.

    Did I do that to that?
    Did I put myself round and about?
    Where are those aspirin bottles?
    The hippo must be put out.

  74. January 30, 2010 2:06 PM

    can’t even spell “moidered” ! Could the Ed correct this at the end of the second verse. Thanks

  75. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2010 12:09 AM

    Looks like Ed’s too pissed to edit.

    In the bar

    A pint of lager and a scotch.
    All right, how’s it going with you?
    Thanks, make mine a pint and a scotch.
    Thought I’d get out and have a few.

    My round, mate. Six pints and a scotch.
    No, she fucked off with that plumber.
    Yeah, I’ll have a pint and a scotch.
    Before he fixed the taps. Bummer.

    Can I have a pint and a scotch?
    You spilled my fucking drink, bellend!
    Get me another pint and scotch.
    Just be careful in future, friend.

    I’m having a pint and a scotch.
    Jesus, that cow is fucking fat.
    I said, mate, a pint and a scotch.
    What are you fucking looking at?

    Hurry up with that pint and scotch.
    What are you doing, you stupid sod?
    Give me my fucking pint and scotch!
    Which of you cunts called PC Plod?

    I must have drunk a pint of scotch.
    Let me out of this shithole quick.
    All those pints and glasses of scotch.
    I think I’m going to be sick.

  76. Captain Ned permalink
    January 31, 2010 4:28 AM

    Sounds like it’s all go down in the Isle of Wight. Is your poem based on conversation overheard at Cowes, Melton?

    Happy anniversary to Politely Homicidal. Thanks for a great blog, your Highness.

  77. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2010 10:57 AM

    Things do get a bit tasty at the Royal Yacht Squadron. Looked better in the mind than it does on the page. As usual.

  78. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2010 11:01 AM

    Should we call you ‘Commander Mowbray’ from now on? Another pink gin, Commander?

    Thanks for the kind words, Ned, but it’s you lot that make it what it is (whatever that is).

  79. January 31, 2010 11:09 AM

    The Royal Yacht Squadron explains the tone of your poem perfectly MM. You’re channeling Prince Harry yah?

  80. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 31, 2010 11:27 AM

    Oh yah. We usually rent a hice for Cowes Week and sail the bate over.

  81. mishari permalink*
    January 31, 2010 11:34 AM

    I think you mean ‘my husbin und eye…’. Have you come far?

  82. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:23 PM

    Far enough. Mrs M has contracted pinkroom disease, probably from some disgusting adolescent’s exercise book. My guts are rumbling a bit. Up to Lexington 125, I think.

  83. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 1, 2010 4:55 PM

    I meant to say I haven’t received anything from you as yet. Should I be threatening the postman?

  84. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2010 6:01 PM

    No, not yet. I’ve been remiss. I posted stuff off to you, freep, XB and Al today.

    You should have it before the weekend. Sorry, been a bit distracted…

    The ex-partner of a man who committed suicide on a railway track after he lost around £82,000 in an internet dating scam described those who targeted him as “vultures” today.

    Philip Hunt, 58, of St Catherine’s Court, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, met a “young and beautiful woman” calling herself Rose via a website and paid out the money to help her come to the UK from Nigeria to start a new life with him.

    Today, a jury at an inquest in Hull took 15 minutes to return a verdict of suicide.

    Speaking after the verdict, Lesley Smith, Mr Hunt’s former girlfriend of around three years, condemned the internet fraudsters.

    “Philip was a very gentle gentleman, very quiet and reserved and very intelligent…”

    Mr Hunt was asked to help transfer 2.9 million US dollars into the UK through customs, which he was led to believe would be used to help him and “Rose” build a life together in this country.

    On one occasion, he travelled to a hotel near City Airport, in London, where two men took what appeared to be a dirty piece of paper from a case and covered it in a solution, making it appear to turn into a 100 dollar bill.

    They told him they needed money to convert the remainder of the notes in the case.

    Mr Hunt subsequently remortgaged his house and took out loans and overdrafts to pay for various alleged costs…

    – The Indy, today

    Now, I am not, I hope, a callous man but, seriously: who, in 2010, falls for Nigerian internet scammers who ask for help moving $2.9 million? So wide-spread and well-known are these scams that Nigeria is virtually synonymous with internet fraud. The poor fellow is described as ‘very intelligent’. Really? Frankly, I doubt it.

  85. MeltonMowbray permalink
    February 1, 2010 10:59 PM

    I’m not complaining. I know your princely duties are onerous. Drinking those cases of champagne, smoking those cigars, gorging on those huge meals heavy with cream must be exhausting as well as time-consuming. I was just looking for an excuse to slap my postman up.

  86. mishari permalink*
    February 1, 2010 11:21 PM

    Give the bastard a slap for me-he still owes you a Furst book or two.

    Been re-reading (after many years) Hazlitt’s Table Talk. Full of good stuff like this:

    “Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern – why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be?”

    And came across this:

    In 1939, Joseph Kennedy, then serving as U.S. ambassador to Britain, petitioned President Franklin D. Roosevelt to restrict foreign screenings of Frank Capra’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington on the grounds that the film was “an indictment of our government” that “will cause our allies to view us in an unfavorable light.”

    Capra’s depiction of a Washington dominated by special interests and toadying political hacks also angered Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley, a Democrat from Kentucky, who complained that the movie presented a “grotesque distortion” of Washington politics that suggested that the Senate was nothing more than an “aggregation of nincompoops.”

    – Alex Massie on

    So, it turns out Capra was a documentary film-maker, then?

  87. February 2, 2010 9:29 AM

    Mishari re; death I like this observation from George Herriman’s superb Krazy Kat comic strip.

    Krazy asks Mr Bee: “Do you think Mr Bee, that what happened yesterday will happen again?”
    “It most certainly will, Krazy. History, events, accidents, thoughts, jokes, you, I, everything and nothing must repeat itself. Everything is just nothing repeating itself … ashes to ashes is the best repeating act we do … so don’t worry, it’ll happen.”

  88. February 2, 2010 1:16 PM

    ‘Columbus was wrong/The world is square’

    Following a severe laptop overhaul, Mishari, I’m now enjoying the Box of Trash you sent. Fantastic; already enjoyed the cover of Like a Rolling Stone, which celebrates Dylan’s revolutionary epic by simply repeating half the chorus over and over again, and Beaver Patrol, which I know from a version by Pop Will Eat Itself but had no idea it was a garage nugget.

    I’ve missed out on the alco-fun, I see. I set myself the task of writing a play and screenplay in January, which has unforgivably re-channelled my muse. All done, now. Will have a think.

  89. February 2, 2010 1:30 PM

    And the original Spades’ version of You’re Ganna Miss Me!!!! Glad Roky re-recorded it with jug, though.

  90. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2010 1:47 PM

    Glad you’re enjoying it, XB. There are some real gems in there. I sent you some films, including A Boy and His Dog, Up In The Air, A Serious Man, 44 inch Chest and The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus. Hope you haven’t seen them all already…

  91. February 2, 2010 1:47 PM

    Al, re: Herriman:

    Everything is just nothing repeating itself, again.

  92. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2010 2:09 PM

    Terrific poem, Tom.

    I remember, many years ago in NYC, blathering on to a jazz drummer friend of mine about the seedy brilliance of R. Crumb, G. Sheldon et al and he smiled tolerantly (I was very young; he was about 15 years older and had played with people like Dexter Gordon, Hank Mobley and Sun Ra) and said: “Ever read any Krazy Kat?”. I hadn’t, so he lent me a volume of collected strips.

    I was astonished. It was as if Dada had snuck into the American popular psyche through a back door. Apparently, ee cummings wrote the introduction for the first collected book of strips. I can’t say I’m surprised.

    Fantastic (in the most exact sense) stuff…then again, if you watch the old Fleischer Bros stuff–Out Of The Inkwell, The Little King, Koko the Clown, Betty Boop, the original Popeye cartoons–there was clearly a very strong, subversive, surrealistic streak at work in America at the time…happy days.

  93. February 2, 2010 2:22 PM

    Tom I think Hearst’s continued support of Herriman in the face of dwindling interest from the public is one of the few examples where art has benefitted from commerce.

    Syndicated strips are often handed over to other artists when the creator dies but Krazy Kat stopped as Hearst felt no-one could do what Herriman did – he was absolutely right.

    We’ve performed a few times for a music festival at Hearst’s Atlantic college St. Donats ( just south of Cardiff on the coast ). It really is like something from Citizen Kane.

  94. February 2, 2010 2:30 PM

    Mishari do you know Der Kinder Kids by Lionel Feininger ( avant-garde painter from the early part of the 20th century ) or the Incredible Upside Downs by Gustav Verbeek – another emigre to the US? Beautiful drawings

  95. February 2, 2010 2:31 PM

    Al and Mish,

    Yes, I love all that stuff too. Deeply imprinted, somewhat nutty memories.

    Here’s my Popeye.

    And here’s my Betty Boop, with her mouthless friend Henry.

    Henry made the acquaintance of Betty in a Fleischer cartoon. She sprinkled birdseed on the bald pate of the poor mute lad. Suggesting he was a birdbrain, I suppose.

    The German cartoonist Carl Anderson created Henry for the Saturday Evening Post, but he was soon bought up by King Features, the comics arm of Hearst. When Anderson died, Henry was carried on according to the pattern you describe, Al: same character, his life continued by new artists.

  96. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2010 2:40 PM

    I was only vaguely aware of Der Kinder Kids and knew nothing about
    Lionel Feininger. Wow…what a fabulous painter. Thanks, Al.

    Never heard of the Incredible Upside Downs, either. Something else to look into. More stuff I don’t know. Everything under heaven is in chaos: the situation is excellent…

  97. February 2, 2010 3:00 PM

    One of my favourite eras and types of art ever. These artists have either ruined my brains or improved what was there.

    The Incredible Upside Downs features a story of 9 or so panels which you read then turn the other way round and the story continues. The logic of the story is completely determined by the form with which it’s told. The drawings have to follow a narrative arc as well as make sense the right and the “wrong” way round. There’s no piercing insights into “la condition humaine” but there’s something really beautiful about them

  98. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2010 3:34 PM

    Been re-reading Simenon’s 1938 novel L’Homme qui regardait passer les trains (The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By). Written 4 years before Camus’ L’Etranger, it tells the story of Kees Popinga, a respectable middle-aged office-drone who becomes aware of the absurdity of human life and commits a motiveless violent crime. I came across this bit, which really hit me where I live:

    This feeling about trains, for example. Of course, he’d long outgrown the childish glamour of the steam locomotive. Still, there was something about trains that had a special appeal for him, especially night trains, which always seemed to conjure in his mind oddly ill-defined but improper notions.

    (my translation)

    It perfectly expresses my own feeling for trains. A hangover from reading books like Grim Grin’s Stamboul Train and Fleming’s From Russia With Love, I expect. That, and being old enough to actually remember steam trains: the swirling steam, the heavy clunk of the doors, etc

  99. February 2, 2010 3:43 PM

    If you’re in need of nostalgia the train from London Bridge to Dover still has the old style of compartments.

    I bet as soon as I post this Tom will come back with a link and a lovely poem but do you know the photos of O Winston Link? If not give him a coat of looking at. He set out to document the passing of America’s steam age and ended up creating images like De Chirico. Extraordinary.

    Sorry it seems to be ” Do you know this or that artist?” week at Alarming villas.

  100. mishari permalink*
    February 2, 2010 3:53 PM

    I do know Link and unlike Simenon’s anti-hero, the glamour/romance of steam trains has never faded for me. There was something elemental about them–the steam, the noises, the smells, the cinders that got in your eye, that slow, purposeful chuff-a-chuff-a build up of momentum, standing on bridges as a kid and losing oneself in the clouds of steam as a train passed beneath. They were almost like living things–breathing, panting, gasping, bellowing, sighing…

    Modern trains (which I still love) are doubtless more efficient, faster, etc but by God, they’re not as…I dunno…atmospheric…they don’t tickle the same ganglions.

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