Thursday, January 31, 2008

Towel, Bowel, Howel

Pompado inquires at the office if there is any news of a missing friend, who goes by a generic Welsh name. The office girl, Komeko, has difficulty recalling him.


Komeko: Your friend’s name is?

Pompado: Howel.

Komeko: Towel?

Pompado: Howel.

Komeko: Sorry, I can’t recall all those part-timer’s names. Bowel you say his name was?

Pompado: He’s not a part-timer. He’s a fool-timer. Name is Howel. H-O-W-E-L. One “l” or two I can’t remember, he’s been away so long. “Ha” as in “How long?”

Komeko: Howel. Oh I recall now. He went away.

Pompado: That’s the one. About a year ago.

Komeko: I vaguely recall. Ah, yes, the one that sent me all those photographs of Namibia.

Pompado: Why’d he do that?

Namiko: I’d been to Lesotho. He thought I’d be interested.

Pompado: And were you?

Komeko: Interested? I liked the one of him up a tree with an angry rhino down below. Cute.

Pompado: The rhino?

Komeko: No, Bowel up the tree.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Insulting is a delicate art

Lori’s English is pretty good but she has a problem with an exam question and seeks a native speaker colleague’s advice.


Lori: Here’s the question: "She plays [ ] a professional than an amateur." The correct answer is “She plays [more like] a professional than an amateur.” Can you say “She plays [less like] a professional than an amateur”?

Larry: Sounds funny.

Lori: But is it grammatically wrong?

Larry: Guess not, but a native speaker wouldn’t say it.

Lori: Why?

Larry: More likely to modify the amateur, justify it. Like “She plays less like a professional than an out of practice amateur. Praising is easy. “You did well.” Insulting is a delicate art, if I say to someone, “You’re a pig,” I'm being boorish and pulling myself down to the level I perceive them to be at. Saying something like, “Your manners would offend Orwell’s porcine communists,” elevates you to some perch above the person being put down.

Lori: Then we'll have to justify [more like] and disallow [less like] through data from a concordancer?

Larry: Yup. And claim the item is testing competence in insult protocols, not grammar.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rough flight

Reginald asks Tom about the flight.


Reginald: Was it crowded?

Tom: Full. And quite a bit of drama. The heaters were on full blast, and as a result one woman collapsed.

Reginald: Serious? Was there a doctor?

Tom: No need. She recovered. And then there was an error, so there was an urgent announcement.

Reginald: Don’t like urgent announcements.

Tom: And then when it came time to fill in the forms two or three didn’t have pencils. And it was so hot, the doors had to be opened.

Reginald: While flying?

Tom: Flying? This was an examination. What did you think I was talking about? I’m not flying til next month.


Labels: ,

Monday, January 28, 2008

You blinked

Han of Hong Kong is traveling with his parents, Li and Law.


Han: Mom, you blinked. We’ll take it again.

Ms Li: I always flinch when the flash goes off.

Mr Law: You blink before the flash goes off.

Han: Anyway, focus on your eyes. Keep them wide open, like a gwailo.

Ms Li: No way, I'm Chinese.

Han: I’m serious. The big-name movie actors have this charisma because they blink less often than ordinary people. They train themselves not to blink. Chinese or not, makes no difference.


Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 27, 2008


About to write about covers or context or something beginning with “c”, Barry’s memory is jogged by Blogspot Dashboard: “364 posts to date”.


Barry: 364. If I post today, that’s 365. 365!

The Cat: [Yawn]

Barry: Don’t you realize what that means? It means I have kept it up for a whole year.

The Cat: [Blinks]

Barry: Sometimes I surprise myself. Never thought I could stick at it this long. Finding something new to say every day.

The Cat: [Meow]

Barry: Okay, so it wasn’t all new. Reality regurgitated, rehashed, perhaps restated. And a couple of days off. But they were because there was no Internet connection. To make up I sometimes posted twice a day.

Cat leaves.

Barry: No readers, never mind. The blog is the witness to my existence.


Labels: , , ,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I am who I am

Eddy, who wants an identity, declares he is going public to his friend Anthony, who prefers to remain anonymous.


Anthony: I can’t understand why. The internet’s a dangerous place. You put your real name up there on your blog and someone might steal it.

Eddy: If I were younger than 50, and had a career at stake, that might deter me. The way I see it, is if you feel confident about yourself, you go ahead and tell the world. This is who I am.

Anthony: I am who I am?

Eddy: Exactly. The young don’t want to be older than they are. And old people mostly don’t go around stealing identities. And anyway, people are tiring of avatars and getting more interested in real people.



Friday, January 25, 2008

email etiquette

Jennifer gets an email message.


Jennifer: You ever get this kind of message? Just “Please call.”

Jocelyn: Yeah. Sometimes. It’s really impolite.

Jennifer: Impolite?

Jocelyn: Well, if you send a demand like that, it’s good manners to say why. Like “Please call me about the party on Saturday.”

Jennifer: So how do you handle such messages?

Jocelyn: Handle? I just ignore them.

Jennifer: I can’t do that.

Jocelyn: Then send a message back saying, “I’ll call. But what’s it about?”


Labels: ,

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Zeke, who was at the meeting, fills in Ricardo, who was absent, on who got promoted.


Zeke: Three were up for full professor. Two got through.

Ricardo: Who?

Zeke: Well unsurprisingly, the Higgins application went through without a whisper. No one understood any of his research so no one dared admit to ignorance. Surprisingly, in a male-dominated faculty, Miss Gaunt got through despite her research into feminism. But they could hardly dispute it since she’s in ten academic societies and all her articles were refereed.

Ricardo: So Schlumberger was rejected?

Zeke: Voting was close. 25 for, 12 against, and 14 blank sheets.

Ricardo: What sank him?

Zeke: One of his articles was still in press. They don’t accept galleys. But mostly, he is not a formidable data-digger, his articles sport no fancy formulae, dramatic graphs or serpentine footnotes. All he could offer was a whole bunch of arty photographs stitched into the text of his articles.

Ricardo: Well, perhaps his data is qualititative rather than quantitative.

Zeke: It's the economy stupid. Gotta realize, it's a numbers place we work in.


Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Old Testament longhand

Frederich visits distantly related Indian relatives for afternoon tea. They are delightful. Saraswati has made tempting Indian snacks and carrot cake.


Saraswati: Have another cake.

Frederich: It’s very good. You have been Christian since you were born?

Samir: Our families were always Christian. Mine for four generations.

Frederich: A long time. You are devout?

Samir: I will tell you this and you decide. I wrote out the Old Testament longhand. Two thousand three hundred pages.

Frederich: Why did you do this?

Samir: So I could know, I mean, really know the Bible. And then, when I had finished I wrote out the New Testament.

Frederich: You kept these works?

Samir: Of course. I had them bound. In leather. And then my wife, she wrote out the New Testament longhand. We bound her work too.


Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More writers than readers

On arriving in London Samuel faces the hard realities of being a writer.


Samuel: This street I lodge in. It's full of writers.

James: What did you expect? This is Grub Street.

Samuel: I go to the coffee shop and everybody is writing. Nobody is reading.

James: It’s a hard road you’ve got to hoe.

Samuel: But mark you, there’s a lot of words they read that they don’t understand.

James: There’s an opening. Write them a dictionary Sam.


Labels: ,

Monday, January 21, 2008

Black radish

Over lunch in the park, Mieko and Reiko disagree about colors of vegetables.


Mieko: Doesn’t look right. It’s not normal.

Reiko: What’s normal for a radish?

Mieko: White. Should be white.

Reiko: Black’s the new fashion.

Mieko: Vegetables don’t have fashions.

Reiko: Why shouldn’t they? Vegetables are just as entitled to change their appearance as we are.

Mieko: I grew up eating white radishes, I won’t eat a black radish.

Reiko: Could this be racism?


Labels: ,

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Publish or perish

Two doctors, Woodruff and Borst, we might describe them as followers of Hippocrates rather than drug company salespeople, are discussing the implications of published vs unpublished studies.


Woodruff: In 2006 the number of prescriptions written for antidepressant drugs was greater than for any other class of medication in the U.S. I should have gone into psychiatry.

Borst: And become a Prozac salesman?

Woodruff: It would help keep the wolf from the door.

Borst: Come on, Harry, you're an honest doc, you know the figures: 94% of published studies on antidepressant drugs report positive effects to taking the drug under investigation, but 96% of unpublished studies find questionable or no benefits to taking antidepressants.

Woodruff: I know, Bill. I’ve had patients come to me with depression and they say the medication doesn’t work. And I know that’s often the case. But sometimes I think part of the problem is with the patient. They give up taking the meds before they’ve had a chance to work. Get impatient to see results or don’t like the side effects.

Borst: The amount of negative data on drug use is remarkable, though. We know that drug companies like to see studies that show positive results and “lose” studies that show no results. They are biased.

Woodruff: Yeah, and there’s another worrying aspect to getting good data. Medical journals prefer to publish articles that demonstrate a treatment benefit. Could the drug companies be in collusion with the medical journals? Is there a huge reef of hidden data telling different stories about drug treatments that drug companies don't want the public to see?


Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Do you prefer your photos JPEG or RAW?

Four friends vie for the best shot of a rising sun.


Ed: Are you shooting RAW for this?

Bert: I don’t do RAW. Anyway, I can’t, not on this 400D.

Ed: I hear there’s a good deal on 40Ds at Yodo’s til the end of the month.20% off.

Bert: Well, I dunno, Ed. RAW’s a lot of trouble to process. Downloading takes a long time. More fiddling in P-Shop. And I hear JPEG isn’t lossy enough to affect 8x10s. And that’s as big as I ever print.

Ed: Aha. Give Picasso a child’s paintbox and he’ll still produce a masterpiece?

Bert: After all the technology, photography just comes down to reading the light.


Labels: ,

Friday, January 18, 2008

Going home

Midnight: Raymond and Russell are sitting on the Marine Parade. Russell has a dilemma.


Russell: It’s nice city. Nearly ideal, in size, in climate, in amenities.

Raymond: So why don’t you move back and live here?

Russell: I know, I was born here. But it’s not that easy. I haven’t finished doing other things.

Raymond: Other things?

Russell: In other places. Learning other skills, meeting other people, learning other languages that can’t be learned here.

Raymond: But your parents?

Russell: I know. They won’t be here forever and I should try to work things out with them.

Raymond: So what’s the problem?

Russell: Maybe it's like you all say, that, I’m restless. But I like to travel. I sometimes think I may even be part-autistic. But I also think that when I move back, that will be it. The end of the day, curtain drops, like now, my midnight.



Thursday, January 17, 2008

La Citta Ideale

Leonardo is asking Piero about his concept of an ideal city.


Leonardo: So is your idea of a city an architectural ideal or is it closer to the social activities in a particular community?

Piero: Both. Both! Interesting conversations in a stimulating environment.

Leonardo: But you have put no people in your painting.

Piero: When I visited Urbino, no one was up.

Leonardo: Now you see, Piero, if I were to visit your city, I would suggest they don’t commercialize it, make it into a theme park for tourists.

Piero: No?

Leonardo: Another thing. I would invite Okinawa musicians like the Nenes to give a concert. Broaden its appeal and encourage visits across borders.


Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Word Play

Bill is busy on crosswords but Hillary wants him on other work.


Hill: Did you see that photo Drudge got of me? I need a better public image.

Bill: I’m working on it. I’m sending this to the New York Times crossword editor.

Hill: I need some good photos, Bill.

Bill: We need words, too, Hill.

Hill: How can a crossword help?

Bill: I’m writing clues. First woman president in 7 letters. Mother of Chelsea in 7 letters. Husband of Bill in 7 letters.

Hill: All the words in the puzzle the same? I still think photos are more powerful than a subliminal approach.


Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fork in the road

Euphoria comes to a fork in the road.


Euphoria: What the…?

Pooh Berra: Take the fork.

Euphoria: Can’t. Neither left nor right.

Pooh Berra: Can you go straight on?

Euphoria: Stupid. How could it be a three-way fork?

Pooh Berra: The devil has one.

Euphoria: You been watching too much Prada. And we can’t go back neither. We’ll have to use your get out of jail free card.


Labels: , ,

Monday, January 14, 2008

Making merit

George offers flowers to the monk.

Monk: Blessed be your family.

George: They are the best orchids.

Monk: They are nice orchids.

George: I grew them myself.

Monk: That is creditable. But money would be...

George: Are orchids an unworthy offering?

Monk: Orchids cannot be eaten and these cannot be sold. I am sorry, there is no merit in decoration.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Born to fish

Boris, who speaks English well, describes his passion to Rudolph, who is a recent immigrant and who still struggles with English.

Rudolph: Why you go out even when raining?
Boris: I have this passion. I was born to fish.
Rudolph: I have passion. I born to bird.
Boris: Born to bird? You mean Born to fly, I think. Bird’s not a noun.
Rudolph: Fish, noun. Fish, also verb. So I think … same, same.
Boris: Not birds. Not same, same. Different. Quite different.


Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gone fishing

Internet down,

gone fishing,

back in a day or two

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Garden furniture

The chairs and table were at the edge of the garden yesterday but this morning…


Abel: They’re gone!

Beatrice: What’re gone?

Abel: The garden chairs.

Beatrice: Oh my god. Where have they been taken? I bet it was them. Those…

Abel: I see them. Look, there. In the water.

Beatrice: And smashed. Vandals.

Abel: Goths.

Beatrice: New Zealanders.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Home concert

Home concert


Rebecca: Stone soup. That’s what it was.

Bill: Stone soup?

Rebecca: You know. The story of the two old women who are sitting out on the street and they boil stone in water and someone comes by and they ask what are you cooking and they say “stone soup” but it would taste better if you brought a potato or something.

Bill: Oh, I remember. And everybody brought a little something and it all turned out delicious.

Rebecca: Right. A little bit of opera, a little bit of poetry, a little bit of Bach organ, a little bit of fork song –

Bill: Folk song. Not fork song.

Rebecca: Sorry. And the food and wine.

Bill: Oh too right. Samosas were great and the chiffon was good too.



Monday, January 7, 2008


Setsuko is accompanying Mineko.


Mineko: Sorry. Start over.

Setsuko: Take it from the second Nobis Pacem?

Mineko: From the beginning. And a little quicker.

Setsuko: You can’t do a round quickly.

Mineko: I can if I’m doing it myself. I trying for a Toad the Wet Sprocket effect.

Setsuko: Solo?


Labels: , ,

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Turning the handlebars makes the wheel elliptical

The artist is talking to the cyclist.

Cyclist: Can I use the bicycle?

Artist: Wait a moment. I’m trying to see what happens when you turn the handlebars to the right.

Cyclist: The bicycle turns to the right?

Artist: I want to see what happens to the wheel. See? It turns elliptical. And the right handlebar goes down and the left handlebar comes up.

Cyclist: It doesn’t feel like that when you’re riding it.


Saturday, January 5, 2008

Departing from the script

When a script doesn’t go the way the director wanted it to, he has to be diplomatic and pray that the editors will be able to sort it out.


Actress: I looked at the script and it’s not quite how I think she would say it.

Director: No problem. The script is just a general charting. It indicates the approximate direction. You decide how we steer round the snags and rocks that pop up in the midstream current.


Actress: There. I’ve said what I wanted to say. And how I think it should be said.

Director: You departed from the script.

Actress: Meaning we went off in a direction? We were spontaneous? We did begin with the script.

Director: Right. The way you handled it, no problem. That was the prime function of the script. To serve as an approximation.


Labels: , ,

Friday, January 4, 2008

Holiday road toll statistic

ABC: Hello. We got a call from Michael. What's up?

QRP: Kerry. She was killed.

ABC: No!

QRP: Car accident.

ABC: When?

QRP: Wednesday.

ABC: How did it happen?

QRP: Horse bolted onto the highway. She was in the passengers seat. Head injuries. Died at the scene.

ABC: Will you stay over?

QRP: Got to get over there. They're closing the casket tonight. Funeral tomorrow. Only 19. Why do these things happen?


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Debate over bait

Garth, a live bait man, teases Bruce about his use of soft plastic lures. Guy, the third man in the boat, is ambivalent.


Garth: How many did you catch last week?

Bruce: Ten.

Garth: Legal size?

Bruce: Big enough to barbecue.

Garth: So you think today –

Bruce: I got one, I got one.

Guy: Maybe there is something in those new plastic baits. But it doesn’t seem quite cricket.

Bruce: Course it isn't. It's all about getting big edible worms.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Then and now (2)

The interviewer moves on from history to design, views and extensions.

Interviewer: Was this a deliberate get-back-nature approach to holidays?

GKN: I thought it good for the family to experience a simple life, a taste of pioneering that early settlers must have faced, if you will. And the lack of any services like electricity drove the project in this direction and didn’t offer any temptations. There was no other choice.

Interviewer: (still shot #2, 3 of GKN cabin) The design has a simple clear profile. It seems to be well-sited, overlooking the water.

GKN: (shot of back timber wall) The back wall, facing south, the cold side is a timber wall, no windows. (shot of glass front and side doors) The west and north sides were sliding glass doors to catch the sun. The morning sun was late to strike (zoom shot of view past jetty down lake towards Mourea) but the view down the lake of the sunsets has been great. Sitting four to five feet up, perched on concrete piles, gave a view of the hot water beach on the peninsula and also allowed boat storage under the house.

Interviewer: (Shot of interviewer) The views are impressive. Can you tell us something about them?

GKN: (insert footage including narration shot 071228 on lake shore panning from Hot Beach to Ohau Channel, past islands, to kayaker entering Hot Stream).

Interviewer: (Shot of interviewer indicating extension) But this one room cabin didn’t stay this way. It has grown.

GKN: (Shot of GKN explaining the first extension.) Needs changed. As the family grew, more rooms were required, so in 1976 the 1st extension was added. (brief still shot of first extension) This involved the verandah being closed in to become a bedroom, the extension included a bathroom and boatshed being put on the end.

Interviewer: (shot of interviewer) I imagine many people have visited over the years.

GKN: (Shot of GKN in front of cabin) That was the main reason for building it. I saw it as a social place where people could drop by and talk, stay and relax. A whole swag of families stopped by over Christmas and New Year. (still shot of N’s, F’s, & S-Ss) For example, one year, the Fenwicks moored at the jetty and slept on board their launch, the Daph-Ann, and the Somerset-Smiths camped in tents on the lawn. So that was three couples and ten children having a communal holiday. You might say that was a common pattern in New Zealand holidays in the 1960s.

Interviewer: (Shot of interviewer) But it has been extended even more?

GKN: (Shot of GKN in gallery/conservatory) Too right it has. There was the addition in 19— of the main bedroom, the closing in of the deck to make a gallery/sunroom/conservatory, effectively creating sleeping areas for around a dozen people.

Interviewer: (shot looking down lake across jetty) And what have been the most recent developments?

GKN: About 2001, we extended the jetty, it’s a jetty shared with the neighbor, (Shot of GKN standing next door in boat launching area) there haven been easements added to the title so that a sharing of facilities with the property next door, particularly for boat launching, are preserved. (Shot of GKN showing handrail) And most recently there have been small additions like the installation of handrails up steps to assist entry and exit for more elderly guests.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Then and now (1)

The interviewer is planning to interview an architect about his holiday house in a few days. A draft scenario for the opening voiceover accompanying photo stills:


GKN: For more than fifty years, beginning in 1956, the family has been coming to Lake Rotoiti for holidays, especially in the summers. It all started in 1956, staying in a boatshed with the Macky family, in 1959, we camped on the lake shore on Derek van Asch’s property where I designed a house for him. By 1960, I had bought a lakeside property and in 1961, put up a cabin close to the water.

Interviewer: This is a New Zealand tradition, is it, this getting away at holidays, to a retreat near the sea or a river or a lake, and perhaps messing about in boats?

GKN: Very much so. Many of these retreats are rather Heath Robinson affairs, jerry built, reflecting the “do it yourself”culture.

Interviewer: But the cabin you put up seems to have lasted pretty well. Was it designed as a more permanent residence?

GKN: Not at all. I had started a low cost prefabricated housing project in the early 1950s, called Solwood, affordable and at the same time, with a minimalist approach to achieve a clean design. The cabin was also built of prefabricated timber panels. The wood was matai, tongue and grooved. The timber was rough sawn on the outside and dressed on the inside to achieve a smooth timber interior. The boards were held together with a hardboard tongue slotted into grooves sawn into the edges of the 3 inch matai boards.

Interviewer: The cabin was originally a simple one room retreat?

GKN: With a back verandah for extra sleeping, an outside toilet, a long drop.

Interviewer: No electricity?

GKN: There was a kerosene cooker and kerosene lamps. Water came off the roof into a tank behind the house.


Labels: ,