Friday, October 31, 2008

Drudge drops the ball

A Swallow and an Amazon duel over Drudge.

Swallow: Matt Drudge.

Amazon: Yes. What?

Swallow: He...

Amazon: He what?

Swallow: Look. I know you swear by him and all that but don't you think... well, recently, he hasn't been quite as on the ball as a few years back?

Amazon: On what issue?

Swallow: Well, one day, he puts up a headline: McCAIN VOLUNTEER ATTACKED AND MUTILATED. And the next day he has to put up what amounts to an apology. SHE MADE IT ALL UP. Matt Drudge getting it wrong?

Amazon: So he wasn't exactly on the money with that one.

Swallow: He used to be on the case. In all cases. Often on the money. First with the breaking news. Not as often now I hear and quite frequently getting the story back to front. And for a leftie, you'd think he'd be less of a McCain supporter.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Gesture in English

Hiroko Kuniya impresses the cameramen with her English interviewing two American commentators on the Obama campaign.

Junior C: Her English is really good.

Senior C: Besides the language, do you see anything different about her talking to those guys?

Junior C: She’s got her back to the camera so we can’t see if she blinks?

Senior C: Chump. Look. Speaking Japanese, her arms don’t move. Speaking English, she’s waving them all over the place.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Grapes of Wrath

Henry is looking for material about the last depression. Jane has some suggestions.


Jane: Margaret Bourke-White took some photos. And then there’s that Steinbeck novel.

Henry: Grapes?

Jane: Of Wrath. First chapter just three pages, describes the dust bowl of the late 1920s, when Oklahoma farmland became just dust, because of drought and no crop rotation.

Henry: Then it was made into a movie. Some powerful images in that.

Jane: Some powerful lines too. Like when the family is leaving the farm, house has been bulldozed down, they’re heading for California.  Al says to Ma “Ain’t you gonna look back, Ma?” And Ma says, “We’re goin’ to California, ain’t we? All right then let's go to California. Never had my house pushed over before. Never had my family stuck out on the road. Never had to lose everything I had in my life."


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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cats, lolcats and language

Jocelyn claims she has no need of anyone at home but her cat.

Just you and the cat?

Jocelyn: Company.

Company, yes. But conversation?

Jocelyn: He talks.

He talks, yes. Meow. Talking to a cat is, is, is like…

Jocelyn: A lot passes between us.

Maybe a lot of affective stuff.

Jocelyn: Doesn’t have to be human sounds and words. Lot of those lolcats have no grammar to speak of.

I’m not talking about human sounds and words. Nice to have a cat around. Great, even.  But just answer me this, how can a cat polish your conversation skills? Meow. Hungry, are we? 

Nice pussy.

 Cookie? Sound of munching in reply, perhaps?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blinking on TV

Senior and junior cameramen discuss Hiroko Kuniya on Close-up Gendai.


Senior C: Great interviewer. Calm demeanour. Pertinent questions. Doesn’t blink.

Junior C: Doesn’t blink?

Senior C: Good interviewers don’t blink.

Junior C: But she does. Look. There. When the side-on camera takes-over she blinks like mad.

Senior C: Real pro. Times it. No one sees that. They only see her 500 watt unblinking gaze on Camera 1. Face on.


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Monday, October 20, 2008

Lawrence of Arabia

Believe it or not, Ali, has never heard of Lawrence.


Hubert: He wrote a long book. Seven Pillars. Hundreds of pages. Lost the manuscript when he forgot it on the train and had to completely rewrite it.

Ali: Who was he?

Hubert: Strange man. Started off with little behavioral oddities like holding a match in his hand and not minding when the flame reached his fingers.

Ali: Bravado?

Hubert: Held different opinions. Journalist asks him, “What attracts you to the desert? Lawrence replies, “It's clean.”

Ali: I can get that.

Hubert: There’s more. He had to execute a man, a friend. Later he said, he almost enjoyed it.



Friday, October 17, 2008

Through thick and thin

Angelina has a new iPod but Patrick suggests she upgrade the earphones.


Angelina: Sounds fine the way it is. Why would I?

Patrick: Block out surrounding sounds.

Angelina: OK.

Patrick: And don’t your cables get tangled?

Angelina: They do. They do.

Patrick: Thick cables don’t tangle so easily.

Angelina: What’s with the over-ear fashion?

Patrick: You get used to it.

Angelina: Sure?

Patrick: Shure.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Monopolizing the cloud

Simon, a laid off software engineer, takes to writing poetry.


Simon: Listen!

I jostled with the laid-off crowd

Exiting the company gate,

Then all at once I saw the cloud

Smugly smiling, we’re all too late.

 Rajiv: Sounds familiar…

 Simon: A reworking of... I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils...

Rajiv: The original sounds more, what, timeless? What’s it all mean?


Simon: The cloud is a metaphor.


Rajiv: For?


Simon: For the Internet. For the Internet being taken over by some entrepreneur. Mega-entrepreneur.


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Monday, October 13, 2008


Remy passes on some news of a book sale.**


Remy: Just got a call from a friend who said we should get down to Falcon Books and check out its interstitials.

James: Interwhatsits? I didn’t know the Falcon sold whatsits. I thought its line was coffee and the occasional book.

Remy: Samuel Johnson liked interstitials. Through them he foresaw the Internet. “Any thing reticulated or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the intersections.”

James: What rot. Wasn’t in the Rambler.

Remy: It’s in his dictionary. Look up how he defined “network.” Mark my words. “Interstitial” is a word that’s ready for a comeback.


**In the film version, Remy stars as Ratatouille, James as Peter O’Toole. See it soon at your nearest Interstitial. It's not half bad.


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Saturday, October 11, 2008



Left one's a geographer.

OK, the compasses. But the right one?

Astrologer? Astronomer? Astrophysicist?


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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Free music

Belinda is looking for a new mobile phone which has decent music playing capabilities.

Victoria: Nokia's CWM comes with a year of free music downloads.

Belinda: Not exactly free. I heard they build the cost of the music fees into the cost of the handset.

Victoria: Most young people expect music to be free. Except in Japan.

Belinda: Japanese will pay for music downloads?

Victoria: I asked a group of 15 Japanese students, "Do you pay for music or download it for free?" And all of them said, "I pay," "I pay," "I pay."

Belinda: They must be rich.

Victoria: And then, after class, I'm chatting with one of them and she tells me privately, "None of us actually pay for music. They all just told you they did. They download for free, same as people in other countries."

Belinda: Honne and tatemae!


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Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A good story


Schuster: I was returning across the border from Poland. In the rear-

view mirror I see a green car pull out and start following me. It passes and then a sign on the roof flashes: "Zoll. Follow me," Turns off the autobahn and into a big warehouse and clang the doors shut and two green uniformed customs officers run at the car with guns yelling “Get out, hands up!” I thought, “Shall I run straight at them and try to drive through the doors?” But I get out and think I can use my German skills to talk my way out of this. They look inside the car shouting "Haben Sie Ziggaretten!" all the time. One says, “Nothing here.” Then they check my passport. And the senior one says, "I thought you were Polish. You are a Schuster? I also am a Schuster. Maybe we are related.”


Brandt: What a coincidence. You were related?


Schuster: There are hundreds of Schusters living on the border of Germany and Poland. Actually I distorted the story. His name wasn’t Schuster. His supervisor’s name was Schuster.


Brandt: Why did you say it was?


Schuster: Doesn’t make for such a good story.


Brandt: I wonder how many news events and urban legends are merely stories that have been distorted like that?


Schuster: It could be called editing.



Sunday, October 5, 2008

Celebrities, Paparazzi and Tabloid Readers

E.T. is curious how the fame mechanism works.


E.T. What do paparazzi do?

Elliott: Take pictures of celebrities.

E.T. Do celebrities want their pictures taken?

Elliott: Celebrities need their pictures taken to make them famous.

E.T. Who wants to see these pictures?

Elliott: Readers of tabloids. They ask for sensational pictures and stories.

E.T. So, it’s a give and take relationship then? Readers want pictures and stories of celebrities, celebrities want to be read about, paparazzi provide.

Elliott: The system has its problems. Sometimes the celebrity does something in public that makes a for an embarrassing picture. And sometimes the paparazzi stalk the celebrity and intrude on their privacy. It's a saprophytic relationship.

E.T. Ah, they live off each other, and die off each other?



Friday, October 3, 2008


Mathman goes off on a sidetrack.


Listener: Pretty complicated stuff.

Mathman: OK, here’s something simple. Trivial but simple.

Listener: Like simple.

Mathman: Give me three words that contain their numbers.

Listener: Huh?

Mathman: Give up? Look! Zer0. Thr33. Ei8ht.

Listener: They pay you to figure out stuff like that?



Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Economics is exciting again

Red Queen wonders whether Alice said white rabbit on the first day of the month.


Red Queen: Did you say "White Rabbit" as soon as you woke today?


Alice: Well, sort of.


Red Queen: You can’t sort of say it. You either did or you didn’t.


Alice: All right, I didn’t.


Red Queen: Tough month ahead. I just know so many of those on Wall Street didn't say it on 1st September last month and look at what happened to them.

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