Friday, February 24, 2006

Third Grade moments.

Just some notable moments from the day so far.

'Kid with too much hair for a boy' does his current event piece about the start of spring training.
This very quickly turns into a moving tribute to the New York Mets. He rails against the injustices wrought upon the common man by the Steinbrenner regime, He takes us back to the carefree, relaxed days of the mid 1960s when his dad started going to Shea Stadium. He speaks in clouded tones of the love he once felt for Johnny Damon and how that love did die. He had the class in the palm of his hands. I felt as if I had been present at the Gettysburg address or Neil Kinnock's 1983 election speech "Do not grow old...."

'Button collecting kid' brought in a small selection of his buttons and talked me through them. It was a geeky moment but worth the trouble.

'Half French Canadian kid' admitted that he is never forced to speak French, not even at his grandparent's house. He does speak French, of his own free will at French camp in the summer.

View from my classroom window.

I've always through this was a rather marvellous view. The picture doesn't do it any justice but there you go. The large building in the centre is the old Williamsburg bank building. I used to have a dentist on the 20th floor overlooking the harbour.
To it's right (and hardly visible with the naked eye let aline this picture) is the Chrysler building, just a small lump , some miles away in Manhattan.
To the Left of the Williamsburg tower is the Empire State building, taller than the Chrysler and closer thus, slightly visible.
It makes more sense if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Happy President's Day!

Did you really expect anything different?

Book learning # 4.

Grace and Power. The private world of the Kennedy White House.
Sally Bedell Smith.

Where to start?
It's no secret that when it comes to the Presidency I have certain ideas. It's also well known that the President I have most admired was the number one beneficary of the events in Dallas in Novemeber 1963.

Does this mean I dislike JFK? No, but my close relationship with his successor means that I am less easily intimidated by the Kennedy legend.
This book certainly adds to the overall Kennedy myth yet it fails to hit the more sycophantic notes. It's a conversational read and would fall somewhere between scholarly texts and some of the quite startling tabloid style paperbacks one can read on the subject.

I guess the key sensation I came away with was a slight sense of being underwhelmed.
What did JFK actually achieve? There are many good arguments for his style of leadership and his brainy 'New Frontiersman' cabinet but what else exactly?
I tend to think that he was a key force in preventing nuclear war in October 1962 and, well, that's probably it. He was also ridden with horrible back pain, He screwed everything in sight and he was terribly wealthy.

I'll give him the Cuban Missile Crisis but the other stuff just became repetitive.

Don't even get me started on Jackie. The pages in this book that deal with her role as First lady had me skipping faster than a boxer in the gym. I'm just not interested in French clothing designers of the early 1960s or White House restoration projects. Oh, she loved horses. Great.

Yet I read on, There were many good accounts of backroom deals to try and shift situations such as Cuba, relations with the Soviet Union, South East Asia as well as domestic issues such as civil rights.

I was also fascinated by JFK's dealings with people such as LBJ and the British Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan.

Then there would be another half dozen pages about his sexual exploits. It just got a bit tired. I can't really blame the author, I mean, this stuff clearly took place and it has it's place in the bigger picture. It was dealt with in a non sensationalist style which actually made it all sound rather mechanical, sex scandals really have to written in a slightly naughty style in order to have impact.

I did get the sense (one that I'd never really bothered to think about before) that the Kennedys were easily the most ridiculously glamourous family to occupy the White House. It's easy to glance at the other residents since FDR and see a bunch of very humble folk by comparison.

What else was amazing was the way the press allowed JFK to get away with so much. From Addisons' disease to the philandering. On each and every issue the journalists kept schtum. Incredible.

That's the trouble, maybe I know too much, maybe I should read more novels but I knew all this stuff already. I learned almost nothing that I hadn't picked up from the last 20 years of reading and watching telly.

Still, I already have a couple of friends who would like to read this now I'm done and I'll happily pass it on, not the worst read of the year, certainly if you don't happen to be a President snob like myself.


Waiting for the men to come and take away our old, dead washing machine and replace it with shiny new washing machine and drying machine. The huge pile of laundry will be erased. The apartment will no longer reverberate to the insane rattling of the spin cycle , it truly was a death rattle.
It's a beautiful day outside, Frau Random Doubt enjoys the luxury of a sleep in, "I'll wake you when they arrive" I assured her. We anticipate the gentle swoosh noise of brand new 'Whirlpool' appliances and a new found choice of clothes.

I sit here, waiting.
I listen to Billy Bragg.
I dream about sailing and walks in the Norfolk countryside.
I wonder upon a number of old friends, Henry, Nik, Dave, Shelley.
Listening for every vehicle that passes on the street outside.

I have prepared a healthy tip. I used to deliver such items myself and know the work involved. When I reach the green hills and sandy beaches of the afterlife I will be greeted in part by the souls of kitchen/bathroom appliance delivery men. I should like a kind welcome.

Well, the next time you see me I should be wearing clean clothes.

Friday, February 17, 2006

A few more links.

Check out the links, I've added a few.
Bill Hicks. I love this guy. I toy with deeply blasphemous ideas about the late great Mr Hicks. Was he a messenger from beyond the stars? Was he the new son of man? We'll never fucking know. Still beyond funny.

English Cut. This is a glimpse into a world I envy. I'm not too bothered about the clothes (although they look tremendous) but I just love the sense of craft, the skills he writes about, the old worldliness. Added to which I have always loved the sound of cloth being cut with shears.

Finally, The mighty "If You Want My Bocce' team have our own blog!
Check out our highs and lows, our triumphs and our traumas.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Another day, another blog.

Check out blightyblog, it's over there on the right. An irreverent and chortling litttle look at the old country. Sir Blighty holds many of the same things in esteem and contempt as I do.
Have a look.

Monday, February 13, 2006

World Cup results predictor.

Click on the title link.

I've not had the time to go through all the games yet. It look like fun (and don't worry if you're an American, Just toss a coin).
If you have half an hour to spare, have a go.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Cheney accidently shoots man.

This children's poem sums up how the news of Vice President Cheney's hunting accident affected me as I spent my snowbound Sunday seeking amusement.

Daddy Fell into the Pond
a poem by Alfred Noyes

Everyone grumbled. The sky was grey.
We had nothing to do and nothing to say.
We were nearing the end of a dismal day,
And then there seemed to be nothing beyond,
Daddy fell into the pond!

And everyone's face grew merry and bright,
And Timothy danced for sheer delight.
"Give me the camera, quick, oh quick!
He's crawling out of the duckweed!" Click!

Then the gardener suddenly slapped his knee,
And doubled up, shaking silently,
And the ducks all quacked as if they were daft,
And it sounded as if the old drake laughed.
Oh, there wasn't a thing that didn't respond
Daddy Fell into the pond!

Alfred Noyes

I know I shouldn't laugh, I know that some poor billionaire is in hospital with buckshot in his arse but hey!? It's damn funny.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Tales from Third Grade.

'Amusing kid with far too much hair for a boy' thanked me for a lovely day at school.

"Hey Mr Mondale, I just wanted to thank you for a really cool day at school, I hope tomorrow is just as good"

I reacted by scruffing his long dark hair in a cheeky 'oh golly shucks' kind of way.
Then i recoiled in horror as his hair was really greasy.

His response?
"Yeah, I sweat a lot".

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Stones.

What's the reasonable limit?
How much should I put up with before I smash someone's head in with a bag of frozen peas?
Woman at checkout: "Did you watch the superbowl?"
Me: "Yes" whilst thinking what a completely dull waste of time the game had been.
WAC: " What about the Rolling Stones? They were great!"
Me: You just answered your own question love, do you really give a shit about my opinion? "Yeah, umm".
WAC: "I just love that Mick Jagger, he's so amazing, he's still got it"
Me: You are fucking joking? Tell me this isn't true? "They are really, really old".
WAC "And Charlie Watts, he's nearly seventy you know"
Me: Yes I fucking know, but what I don't know is why they persist in poncing around when there are 46 million superior acts that could have been chosen for the half time show (or any fucking show for that matter) "Um, Yeah".
WAC: "And Mick Jagger is a knight".
Me: C*nt more like. "Um. Yeah. Bye"

Sunday, February 05, 2006

I'm a bloody genius me.

Allow me to set this post into some perspective.
I've lived here nearly 4 years and have come to terms with certain key differences between UK and US living.
They drive on the other side of the road.
They call it football.
They are five hours ahead of us.
They say tomato and I say tomato.

So there I am, checking their BBC website for details of England's World Cup games in June.
I make notes in my diary so that I know exactly what is going on and where I can watch it.

Saturday, June 10th. England v Paraguay. US time 7pm.
Thursday, June 15th. England v Trinidad and Tobago. US tine 10pm.
Tuesday, June 20th. England v Sweden. US time 2am.

Of course dear reader, you've spotted it.
I completely buggered up the timing.
Frau Random Doubt pointed this out to me.
She also pointed out that I'm a bit of a clutz.
I speak to someone in the UK most weekends. Part of the conversation is almost always "what time is it there?"
I really should have known.

For anyone who gives a damn the updated schedule is as follows.

Saturday, June 10th. England v Paraguay. US time 2pm.
Thursday, June 15th. England v Trinidad and Tobago. US tine 5pm.
Tuesday, June 20th. England v Sweden. US time 9pm.

I hope to watch all of these games at Floyds on Atlantic Avenue. Do come along and cheer Sven's mighty Ing-Ger-Lund.

PS, it should also be noted that everytime England play in a major tournament on June 15 they win 2-0. It's my Dad's birthday and they generally give him a nice gift.

If you want my bocce.

In English schools there exists a tradition where the members of the school team read their own match reports in assembly. The duty of writing the match report is shared by all team members in a rota system. In the assembly following a school football match the Headmaster will call upon the team captain to read the report to the rest of the school.

"If You Want My Bocce verses Team Odin. The members present were, Dan, Mitch, Mike, Jim, David, Beth, Alex and Glen. We played Team Odin and we beat them 2-0. The first game was very tight with some good bowling all round. Special mentions must go to Mitch , Glen and Beth who were able to secure a 7-6 victory.
In the next game Dan, Mike, Jim and David won a more comfortable victory. I can't quite remember the whole score because I was relaxing after playing in the first game and was chatting to Balgavy and Mitch quite a lot."

Notable moments.

Mitch and I realise that we really like sitting at the garden end of the Bocce court. It has super leatherette armchairs and a fantastic view of the action.

The opposition were a curious bunch, mainly distinguished by their reckless approach to the class system.

Beth managed a champagne moment when she smashed the rich kid's ball out of the way and secured a vital point for IYWMB. I have rarely been so proud of her.

I have decided to adopt a 'mean and moody' persona on the bocce court. This will confuse the opposition somewhat when they see me chatting in a friendly manner to a nearby teammate.

I love the fact that the English Premier League is on the big screen at the same time.

Balgavy said that I should write this up because then I wont spend all my time writing about Presidents.

Next week we take on our rivals, Coffee flats tremors.

Friday, February 03, 2006

My Johnsonian direction

(Or why I care not that Robert Kennedy Jnr is a mere twenty yards away).
Those who know me well know that when faced with a problem I think to myself "What would Lyndon do?"
Therefore the fact that another teacher (upon whom I shower neither favour nor affection) has the son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy in his room does not bother me.

LBJ hated RFK.
RFK hated LBJ
I've been a solid Johnson man since 1991
Gore Vidal mocks RFK
Someone in this building who just done me wrong was just worshipping at the alter of the Kennedy clan.
My favourite Kennedy is Ted.
RFK helped Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn and just wasn't really that nice for much of his life.

But, most importantly,

I've walked past the room he's in FOUR times now and have not had so much as a glimpse.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Groundhog Day 2006

So, Like, What exactly does a groundhog look like?