Friday, 30 March 2012

Fat Girls and Family Guy.

One of my favourite gags on Family Guy to end the evening on:-

Week 2 of The Apprentice

A couple of days ago on the BBC was the second part of the BBC's The Apprentice; one of the very few programmes I enjoy watching and following with a modicum of regularity as it hits the screen.  At the moment, other than this, the only thing I care to watch and follow with any interest is the final series of Desperate Housewives, which is actually turning out some very dark, powerful storylines in this series.  It doesn't seem to have that roller coaster ride mentality yet, however, knowing that there are but a handful of episodes left, and wondering whether all and everything is going to have to be rushed through, and fitted in at breakneck pace.  I doubt that we are going to get the outlandish premise that used to invade so many 1980s soap operas inasmuch that, hmmm, how shall we kill off these characters?? I know, let's have a wedding and shoot them all !!!  Oh, wait a minute, even though we have shot them all, and there were bullets a-flying everywhere complete with blood on bodies and expensive clothes, and a solemn bell tolling over the soundtrack, we didn't kill them all after all; just a couple of minor characters that no one really cared for nor worried about in any case.

For those who don't remember this climactic anti-climax of American television history (see below):-

Ah... the Moldavian Massacre, it brings back fond memories, I'm sure.  One of the most ridiculous cliffhangers ever.  And the sort that would have driven Annie Wilkes into an absolute frenzy !!!  And  these supposed middle European principalities created in the minds of the Shapiros, never mind that a considerable quota of Americans are staggeringly naive in their geographical knowledge but when you hear of "countries" like Moldavia, it's no surprise that most could never find even real countries like Leichtenstein and Andorra on their maps.  And thankfully Moldavia had no need for a camera crew to record the Royal wedding for it's numerous subjects.  Not that royal weddings would matter, especially for that of the heir apparent to the throne to a beautiful American heiress, not at all.

Unfortunately, an event such as the Moldavian massacre could never be allowed to happen and be part of the business minded Apprentice; after all, these are Britain's young entrepreneurs and hopefuls, not characters in a soap opera; all scrabbling, catfighting, and bitching to win £250K from miserable sourpuss tycoon Lord Alan Sugar (for it is he!) by undertaking various tasks over a number of weeks to supposedly demonstrate their commercial abilities and prowess.  The programme has an odd effect on me; in the initial weeks, unless there is someone goodlooking (how shallow I am) for the most part I don't really care a damn and just enjoy watching these buffoons shouting at each other and running around in their black, blue or grey suits trying to show the world, and the TV audience what serious professionals they are.  Yes there is playing up for the camera of course, but at least we aren't being doled out a motley crew of nature's freaks such as those paraded on the likes of Big Brother.

Remember, these people are serious professionals after all.  Last year, once again, I didn't care for any of them at first but as the show progressed, I must confess that you do come to like certain players and loathe others.  Maybe a reflection our own character traits and who and what we identify with, or maybe just clever editing? I don't know...  To cut a long story short, in the last series I warmed to bumbling inventor Tom Pellereau, a thoroughly nice fellow who didn't seem as greedy, ambitious not business dull as the rest of the other wannebes.  Ultimately Tom won, and I was delighted for him.  Because, well, it was most unexpected and he seems such a decent person, someone I would want as a friend. Also he was quirky, smiling, sincere, and trying his very best, despite his dyslexia and not possessing the hard-nosed trait employed by so many of the alsorans in this... ahem... "process".

Tom Pellereau, Apprentice Winner 2011.
Anyway, back to 2012; last week saw the expulsion from the hallowed halls of the Sugar Empire of  really annoying Bulgarian business "professional" Bilyana who didn't know her way around Regents Park, had an increasingly annoying accent that drove me up the wall (though not as bad as that of the nearly sacked Jenna - she of bad hair, and piggy eyes, yet somehow is a "beauty consultant"), and was thoroughly ennervating at each and every turn... Is it any wonder this woman's ancesters were the accursed Bogomils??  Last week, it had to be said that the boys' creations were: a teddy bear in a white t-shirt flanked with the Union Jack, and a badly screenprinted bus on a tote bag.  These "designs" were admittedly on new levels of craptitude but somehow they won for the boys.  And so, this week, the girls had clearly taken a leaf out of the boys' book coming up with a dire creation involving babies and bathtubs, that was madly overpriced.  How on Earth those idiots thought Amazon - hereafter refered to as "a major online retailer" -  would take ten of them, never mind a million staggers belief and boggles the mind.  The BBC, of course can't be seen to advertise, despite the fact Nick Hewer kept saying Amazon, and we saw an exterior tracking shot of their offices complete with cleqrly signposted outside.  Again, the (creative gene bereft) boys' creation wasn't much more exciting, than that of the girls nor their efforts the week previous, that resembled a large blqck stylish cafetière-esque object cum composter that crushed household rubbish in the kitchen.  How delightfully "eco" of the lads.   It did look somewhat swish-ish (moreso than the naff marigolds some of the them had considered), if slightly clumsy... All the same, it looked a multitude of times more professional than that of their female rivals.  And so the boys won again despite their condemnation of their PM's "management" abilities.  In series gone by, it's all macho posturing amongst the boys on their own, and this leads to their ultimate downfall in series gone by, and it's only upon the introduction of females into their team that the boys seem to posture less...  This series seems to have been, thus far, paradoxical and effected a reversal of fortune on the fairer sex.

This week it appeared that there might well be two of the harpies, sorry, females kicked off.  Initially the Irish girl, the PM, who's name escapes me for the moment, wanted to bring back Maria, and stuck by her guns to keep her in the firing line and ultimately be given the push, and Katie, the self dubbed "blonde assassin".  However, Katie kicked up a stink, and the Irish PM was forced to re-think her decision, and went for she of the grating voice, totally useless at numbers, Jenna.  Maria's fate was sealed for having fallen asleep in the car early on, and not having contributed in any sort of earnest throughout the task.  Yes... she was only 20 (years old, not IQwise, though I did wonder) so it is slightly sad to see the youngest entrant thus far being given the boot (though that dubious honour went previously to the infamous Stuart Baggs - 'nuff said) before being given the chance to show her true colours.  On the subject of colours, you have to ask what was going through Maria's mind when packing her horrid wheelie case obligatoire for the show.  Purple, purple, and more purple.  With her eyes made up à la Amy Winehouse, except in purple rather than black, and continually dressed in that horrendous professional business attire of matching purple. Eeek!!!  Her facial expression throughout appeared to be one that was continually one of exasperated disbelief and shock; maybe thats why she felt the need to doze in the car, to give those over-used eyebrows and lip muscles a well deserved break, and us as viewers, from that look !!

Maria, and that look; whilst bedecked in purple.

Sortes Virgilianae.

Currently I am a third of the way through reading P.G. Maxwell-Stuart's Astrology: From Ancient Babylon to the Present; after having just read Caitlin Moran's amusing How To Be a Woman, being by preceeded by (parts of) a re-reading of James Hannam's God's Philosophers (much though I like his admiration of the Mediaeval World, I found myself getting increasingly annoyed at his total dismissal of the impact of classical teachings and thought - evidently far too pagan for Hannam's staunch Catholic beliefs). Also I have dipped into The Etymologicon (great for light relief every now and then), various works of Jung, and browsed through some of my art books.  I also trying to circumnavigate the keyboard on my new laptop.  My mother kindly gave me a great new laptop to replace the one that was stolen last year;  In addition to that theft, numerous other events occured which have caused a continual stream of grief - all of which are the after effects of a certain moron - whom I am trying to exorcise from even my subconscious (angry violent dreams last night meant that he is still there somewhere).  In short, he stole it together with other personal items and perpetrated other evils that have upset me no end.  Anyway, the new laptop has a French keyboard which, although I can adjust to it when writing French and not have to press 100 keys at the same time to get é, è, ç, and à, still leaves me slightly bewildered and befuddled.  My conscious state and thinking language is clearly affected by the arrangement of keys in front of me....

C'est pour ça que je ne dis rien...

This morning I was reading the delightful Mary Beard's blog A Don's Life which I find to be fresh, informative, studious and wryly amusing -  in between the various other blogs (not that there are many) I endevour to keep up with.  For those who know me and my ways, from among the various other blogs I follow are included The Inky Fool (Mark Forsyth's wonderful blog which would lead to his creation of a paper version of the "Etmologicon"); Ninja Dixon (penned by a greatly valued and trusted friend of mine, the Swedish writer/actor/producer Fred Andersson aka Fredzilla, film nerd and un ami par excellence who has such an overwhelming passion for movies it's untrue - quite how his boyfriend and cat survive the assault of so many ("bad") movies I don't know);  The Cantos of Mutabilitie by Oxford don Mark W, a dear fellow I have known for a good number of years, and who covers all sorts of aspects of his enticing, fascinating and extraordinary world ranging from astrology, Welsh and Celtic mythology to his designs for icons, suffering from food poisoning, diverse taste in music, and identifying with being a mediaevalist.  Amongst the handful of other blogs I peruse; some are by friends, some tease my imagination, and others inspire my thoughts.

Anyway, I digress, so back to the subject matter.  Mary Beard writes in her latest blog entry of the "Sortes Virgilianae";  in short, a DIY form of fortune-telling, where one opens a copy of Virgil's Aeniad at random, you plunge your digit in between the pages, and whatever phrase it lands on, therein lies the divination.

And up came.....

"One with a brand yet burning from the flame,
Arm'd with a knotty club another came."

Admittedly, this was Virgil in translation (I only have the Dryden version here) that I drew from; the Latin original is still in a box at my parents home, packed in with various classics (Greek and Roman) no doubt, waiting to resurface and be placed on a shelf again.  Anyway, back to my Virgilian prophecy, I am endevouring to conjure up some sort of meaning out of the words.  Beard admits that she tried again after her first attempt failed to find some meaning or logic in the quote she found, but I am reluctant to do so, and thereby re-consult the oracle.  I shall work on trying to interpret this one.  Maybe this is like trying to read the future using Twinings teabags rather than from leaves...

Otherwise I am trying to think up something else in terms of article for my other blog.  I have some ideas but putting fingers to a AZERTY rather than a QWERTY keyboard, and getting brain into mindset to write something at length... hmmm.  Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration I have need of thee !!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Finnish Sin

This has to be seen and listened to, to be believed.  Almost rhyming lyrics and words imbued with a sense of Mediaeval courtly love, or possibly inspired by the poetry of Thomas Wyatt. (OK, I might have exaggerated oh so slightly).

I won't even start on the choreography.  Watching this makes me so very proud of my Scandinavian heritage.  Apparently this priceles duet are considered a Finnish national treasure... Hmmm.

An I war a maydyn

An I war a maydyn
As many one ys,
For all the golde in England
I wold not do amysse.

When I was a wanton wench of
twelve yere of age,
Thes cowrtyers with ther amours
They kyndyld my corage.

When I was come to
The age of fifteen yere,
In all this lond, nowther fire nor bond,
Methought I had no pere.

An anonymous poem from c. 1500.  I love the wording, the images conjured up by the words.  To my mind, although written before her birth, it sometimes makes me think of the young, flighty Catherine Howard, Henry VIII's fifth wife who is dismissed by so many historians as being nothing more than a foolish girl, or as being a tart.  I have always had a soft spot for this doomed and tragic daughter of Norfolk, for she was raised in a relatively lax and carefree environment in comparison to that of her peers.  There were no savage beatings doled out to this spirited lass and she appears to have had a more lively and spirited childhood than so many others.  One only needs to compare her to the equally doomed Lady Jane Grey, who was doubtless beaten and abused by her parents, yet retained her dignity, the courage of her convictions and her fierce intelligence to the end. 

Catherine was probably no older than 21 when she lost her head on the exectioner's block.  Though she was neither incredibly bright nor educated (nor so, it appears, was her predecessor Anne of Cleves), she must have had something of considerable attraction to draw the King's eye.  People often say that it was due to her youth and that this was the attraction.  It seems to me that it goes deeper than that, as the King could easily have chosen her as another mistress - as Catherine possessed none of the shrewdness of her cousin, Anne Boleyn.  So she must have had something to allow the King to jeopardise his newly formed alliance with Cleves.  Sadly no image survives with certainty of Catherine, so we can but imagine what charms she possessed to captivate the heart of a king.


This week, I have spent some time in Oxford, doing research, seeing people, and as result feeling a sense of considerable inspiration.  I always feel a sense of enlightenment whenever I go to either Oxford or Cambridge, admittedly Oxford is easier to get into than Cambridge if one arrives by train.  Both towns require one a brief walk of some short distance before one happens upon the town centre itself, although with Oxford the distance betwixt station and centre is compatively shorter.  No sooner is one across the bridge when one is greeted by the bookshops, pretty streets, attractive students, and buildings such as the University, the Bodlean Library as well as well as a wonderful sense of awe, inspiration, history and of learning.  Much though I love Cambridge, everything seems so scattered in comparison to Oxford's neater, snugger fit.

In brief, I had a wonderful time, and came out feeling refreshed and enthused.  Time was spent whilst there in the (seperate) company of two splendid individuals who have re-vitalised my soul and re-ignited the spark of gnosis that lurks deep therein, sometimes seemingly stagnating for all too much of the time.  Some of my time was spent in the company of an Egyptologist where we waxed lyrical, argued, agreed and disagreed on various, nay, numerous things Amarna and 18th dynasty in New Kingdom Egypt (circa 14th century BC).  Though the discourse covered a mere two decades or so of a shadowy period of history awash with theories and unanswered questions in Ancient Egypt, our conversation was enthusiastic, our discussions at times heated, differing theories abound, as well as new ideas and thoughts considered.  Some of the these themes we conversed on I have discussed in my other blog.

The rest of my time, when not looking at bookshops and sitting on the platform of Oxford station awaiting a delayed train (Great Western Trains had forgotten to provide a driver for an earlier train on the platform allowing for all sorts of confusion and pandemonium to ensue), I crossed paths with and  spent time in the company of a Mediaevalist.  Another fabulous time was had, if not better than the one described before.  On so many levels.  Inspiring, entertaining and fun.  Again, on numerous levels.  Whereby my previous conversations had focussed upon just one theme; my time here was spent sharing and discussing so many different things, and one thing lead to another to another and so on and so forth.

This brief séjour to Oxford has lifted my spirit to that of the aeons, and back down to the world of matter once again.  So so good to get away to get away from a crowded metropolis; even the (hectic) journey in and seeing the green of the countryside made my mind wander, but sharing the time with sharing my time with likeminded, stimulating individuals makes me realise who I am, what I am, the meaning of inspiration, and on a slightly sad note - to an extent, what I am missing out on.  However, for that time, I have been once again allowed me to feel truly alive again.  Since leaving, my friends have noticed a change within me.  Not along the lines of when O returns to Paris after her visit to the chateau at Roissy, but I feel suitably enlightened nonetheless.

In short: Wondrous !!  I hope to enjoy it all again and more, and soon.


Once again, another introduction to another "blog".  This one however shall be different from my other "blog" Echoes from the Gnosis which is more a collected plethora of writings on various subjects that have have allowed to invade my head from time to time over this life thus far, and whilst both blogs will probably betray my sense of needing some sort of inner self indulgence to share my ideas, opinions, thoughts and views; this one will be of a more personal nature to the other.  "Echoes" was more about sharing my interests and writing them from a more objective angle; here the hope is to be more subjective, more personal, perhaps even more intimate, but mostly a glimpse into my world once more but from with a different outlook and outset.  Yes there will be things that will inspire me but I doubt I will be as "scholarly" in my approach to my subjects as I am elsewhere.  There will probably be some sense of crossover however as this is just in its formative grassroots stages, who knows where it will go.

For those unaware, the title of this blog is derived from one of the lost books of Simon Magus, dubbed the "first heretic", and worse besides, from the second century onwards.  A fascinating, charismatic individual but nonetheless an outsider, and due to his ideas being unorthodox, and which were mostly to be dismissed and refuted, Simon has been chastised and condemned for eternity.