marnanel: (Default)
I was just at Tesco. I did not previously know the checkout person.

CHECKOUT PERSON: So, that'll be £16.48.
MARN: (long pause) What happened in 1648? I thought it was the Spanish Armada. But that sounds like it should have been in 1548.
CHECKOUT PERSON: Yeah, that's definitely the Tudors. It was under Henry, wasn't it? The Mary Rose and all that.
MARN: I thought it was Elizabeth. Didn't Philip of Spain send the Armada because he wanted her to marry him?
CHECKOUT PERSON: Well, what you've gotta remember is, Spain as such didn't exist at the time. There were, like, two or three different states there, and then you've got the Holy Roman Empire making things more complicated...

(discussion continues for a while)

More of this, please.
marnanel: (Default)
Most of my set last night wasn't quite this lewd, but this was the only song that got recorded!

airlock

Apr. 10th, 2014 12:25 am
marnanel: (Default)
It's an airlock!



yes, I am pathetic.
marnanel: (Default)
Here is something wonderful. The poet George Chapman (1559-1634) was born, like me, in Hitchin. He is best remembered for his translation of Homer (as in Keats's sonnet "On first looking into Chapman's Homer"); he claimed that he made the translation because Homer's ghost appeared to him on Hitchin Hill and asked him to.
marnanel: (Default)
ITN has made a documentary where they put two children in a crowded shopping centre and told them to pretend to be lost. One person helped them; six hundred did not. I gather that part of the reason people didn't stop was that they were worried someone would mistake them for a child molester.

You remember that in the Good Samaritan story, the priest and the Levite passed the injured man by because they were worried society would stigmatise them as ritually unclean if they touched a corpse. And here, people ignore lost children because they're worried society will stigmatise them as dangerous perverts if they talk to stranger children.

(FWIW, I decided a long time ago that I would *always* question unaccompanied children despite any risk of misinterpretation by others.)
marnanel: (Default)
Why are there so many songs about graveyards
And what's on the Other Side?
Graveyards are places
With many an entrance
From smallpox to suicide
Some people say that we rest there forever;
I know they're wrong, wait and see
Some day we'll find it
The graveyard connection
The vampires, the zombies, and me
marnanel: (Default)
BALLADE OF GENUINE CONCERN
by Hilaire Belloc

A child at Brighton has been left to drown:
A railway train has jumped the line at Crewe:
I haven't got the change for half-a-crown:
I can't imagine what on earth to do...
Three bisons have stampeded from the zoo.
A German fleet has anchored in the Clyde.
By God the wretched country's up the flue!
The ice is breaking up on every side.

What! Further news? Rhodesian stocks are down?
England, my England, can the news be true!
Cannot the Duke be got to come to town?
Or will not Mr Hooper pull us through?
And now the bank is stopping payment too,
The chief cashier has cut his throat and died,
And Scotland Yard has failed to find a clue:
The ice is breaking up on every side.

A raging mob inflamed by Charley Brown
Is tearing up the rails at Waterloo;
They've hanged the Chancellor in wig and gown,
The Speaker and the Chief Inspector too!
Police! Police! Is this the road to Kew?
I can't keep up: my garter's come untied:
I shall be murdered by the savage crew.
The ice is breaking up on every side.

Prince of the Empire, Prince of Timbuctoo,
Prince eight feet round and nearly four feet wide,
Do try to run a little faster, do.
The ice is breaking up on every side.
marnanel: (Default)
Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold.
> ASK THORIN ABOUT SPANDAU BALLET_




(feel free to share it around)

countleaves

Mar. 6th, 2014 04:40 pm
marnanel: (Default)
So I made this thing. It's collaborative Zork over twitter. It's very silly. It crashes a lot at the moment. Tell your friends.

http://twitter.com/countleaves
marnanel: (Default)
When I leave and I'm walking away
Gonna think of the things I should say
When we've parted and nobody cares
Gonna meet with the Spirit of the Stairs
marnanel: (Default)
Thought from last night: If IRC had a protocol extension meaning "if the client disconnects without warning, do nothing for n seconds, and if a later connection authenticates as the same client within that time, pick up the session seamlessly", it would make using IRC from mobile devices much easier and obviate much of the need for running bouncers. I may look at the source of dancer and see whether that would be possible. What do you think?
marnanel: (Default)
MEDITATION IN LAMPLIGHT
by J C Squire

What deaths men have died, not fighting but impotent.
Hung on the wire, between trenches, burning and freezing,
Groaning for water with armies of men so near;
The fall over cliff, the clutch at the rootless grass,
The beach rushing up, the whirling, the turning headfirst;
Stiff writhings of strychnine, taken in error or haste,
Angina pectoris, shudders of the heart;
Failure and crushing by flying weight to the ground,
Claws and jaws, the stink of a lion's breath;
Swimming, a white belly, a crescent of teeth,
Agony, and a spirting shredded limb,
And crimson blood staining the green water;
And, horror of horrors, the slow grind on the rack,
The breaking bones, the stretching and bursting skin,
Perpetual fainting and waking to see above
The down-thrust mocking faces of cruel men,
With the power of mercy, who gloat upon shrieks for mercy.

O pity me, God! O God, make tolerable,
Make tolerable the end that awaits for me,
And give me courage to die when the time comes,
When the time comes as it must, however it comes,
That I shrink not nor scream, gripped by the jaws of the vice;
For the thought of it turns me sick, and my heart stands still,
Knocks and stands still. O fearful, fearful Shadow,
Kill me, let me die to escape the terror of thee!

A tap. Come in! Oh, no, I am perfectly well,
Only a little tired. Take this one, it's softer.
How are things going with you? Will you have some coffee?
Well, of course it's trying sometimes, but never mind,
It will probably be all right. Carry on, and keep cheerful.
I shouldn't, if I were you, meet trouble half-way,
It is always best to take everything as it comes.

sleep

Jan. 30th, 2014 11:34 am
marnanel: (Default)
Almost every day for the last few months I've woken up too tired to think about anything but going back to bed. I've usually forced myself to work, with the result that I was sitting at my desk too tired to think about anything but going back to bed. It's been heavy going.

Today I was properly awake when I woke. I don't know whether this will continue, but I feel I've been given a precious gift today.

39 today

Jan. 30th, 2014 09:30 am
marnanel: (Default)
Scene: An office. Enter Marn.
Marn: Morning, everyone.
Office: Morning.
Coworker: And... happy birthday?
Marn: Thank you! and well remembered.
Office: Ooh.
Marn: And it occurs to me... oh, don't worry, I'm not going to make a speech...
Coworker: No more than any other day, anyway.
marnanel: (Default)
Writing this down so I can sleep:

Greekery meekery
Paul the Apostle has
Sent many letters to
Corinth and all;
Why were their answers kept
Extracanonical?
Readers discovered they
Started... to pall.
marnanel: (Default)
My ggg-grandparents, Thomas Thurman (1826-1912) and Mary Thurman née Gilderthorpe (1826-1890).

Epiphany

Jan. 6th, 2014 01:59 pm
marnanel: (Default)
I walked in darkness. Many a lonely mile,
my eyes and footsteps stumbling and blind,
I sought a kindly light I could not find
in land or ocean, asking all the while
if lightless lives are taken in exchange
for light eternal; memories of sight
would whisper, even I shall see the light!

I never thought the light would look so strange.
Not in a temple, echoing and awed,
nor in a palace, glistening and grand,
nor in my home, nor any friendly land,
but distant, dirty, in a shed abroad,
I met a maiden bloody from a birth
and in her arms, the light of all the earth.
marnanel: (Default)
Love advice from a fishmonger, what puppies dream about, the invention of flatulence, an unusually honest job application, why King Arthur enjoys a good cuppa, and ten more short poems: Dogged Scribblings is a chapbook of my poetry newly published on Kindle. Reviews and ratings are always welcome!

Click here to buy on amazon.com for $1.99

Click here to buy on amazon.co.uk for 99p

(cover image here)
marnanel: (Default)
This is among my favourite sonnets; I wish it were better known, so here it is:

ON A NIGHT OF SNOW
by Elizabeth Coatsworth

"Cat, if you go outdoors you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white slippers of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low.
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet–
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow."

"Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night.
Strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore;
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes’ green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar–
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door!"

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