Archive for November, 2008

Paul Newman (1925 -2008) sings.

November 12, 2008

The late Paul Newman  sings Plastic Jesus in an excerpt from the film Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Ed Rush, and George Cromarty wrote Plastic Jesus in 1957 and recorded it in 1972 as The Goldcoast Singers on World Pacific Records Here They Are! The Goldcoast Singers

It’s here because it reminds me of of the pleasure there was to be had from watching Paul Newman when he was on top form – as he was in Cool Hand Luke – and also because my youngest daughter finds some of the versions she’s heard amusing.


Palin may “plough through open door” to ’12

November 12, 2008

Sarah Palin, now out of the running for a top job in the USA this time round, appears to be looking forward to 2012 according to an Irish Independent report

The year 2012 is no ordinary date for Sarah Palin. It has now become simply “Twelve”: the kind of gung-ho abbreviation you might give a billion-dollar grossing movie franchise or, more to the point, a historic ex-beauty- queen-takes-the-White House presidential l election campaign.

“If there is an open door [to run for president] in Twelve — or four years later — and if it’s something that’s going to be good for my family, my state, my nation, an opportunity for me, then I’ll plough on through it,” said the Governor of Alaska and former Republican vice-presidential candidate in an interview broadcast on Fox News last night.

Her mangling of metaphors should mean that she does not stand a chance of being even on the Republican ticket. But, will it? It has to be borne in mind that Republicans have never made it obligatory that its leaders have an Abe Lincoln-like command of the English language.

A great leader seems to be able to find just the right metaphor that clarifies the idea and minimizes distortion. Warren Bennis

Bush pollution and polluters.

November 11, 2008

A report in today’s edition of Salon newsletter that the Bush’s White House has, in compliance with the wishes of the Pentagon, America’s biggest polluter, “diminished a little-known but critical process at the Environmental Protection Agency for assessing toxic chemicals that impacts thousands of Americans” makes damning reading

It cites the story of the hundreds of sick people who live near the former Kelly Air Force Base to illuminates “entirely new manner in which the Bush administration has diluted science and put public health at risk”.

“meet lifelong San Antonio residents Robert and Lupe Alvarado. For decades, the Alvarados, whose modest home sits around two miles from Kelly, have lived with toxic chemicals underfoot. This is the poor part of town, adorned with chain-link fences and black metal bars concealing the windows. Many houses lack a proper foundation and rest on simple concrete slabs.

Beneath the Alvarados’ house and those of their neighbors are shallow pools of groundwater that are polluted with tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, a chemical associated with cancer, liver and kidney disease. Before the Kelly base closed in 2001, mechanics used PCE to degrease parts on airplanes and fighter jets. For decades, they chronically dumped the solvent into poorly sealed or unsealed waste pits on the base, where it seeped underground, forming a plume that sprawls over four square miles under 23,000 homes and businesses. Locals refer to the area as “the toxic triangle.”
On cool or rainy days, when the Alvarados close the windows and shut off the air conditioning, a sweet chemical smell floods the house. When they eat dinner during these times, says Robert, 66, it’s like tasting something acrid. “We drink bottled water but there’s nothing we can do about the air except go outside and wait,” says Lupe, 64.

You don’t have to read much more to realise that this is what Bush and the GOP really means by small government.

Clive James and the modern poet.

November 11, 2008

In an exchange with the South African poet Antjie Krog at the Twentieth Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, Clive James, as reported by the poetry and prose webzine Ink Sweat & Tears, gives a very good for doing the best you can if you happen to be a practicing poet in the 21st century.

Highlights for us included… the debate of Saturday morning between Clive James and Antjie Krog on the role of poetry in culture. We particularly liked Clive James’ comment that poetry is a “solitary peacock sport – that’s why English language poets dominate – they are so competitive.” He added that there are more poets alive today than all the poets who have previously existed throughout history. This, he said, should be an indication that most poets will be entirely forgotten in a few years time “so if you realise you are going nowhere, you should go there in style.” In other words take risks because you’ve got nothing to lose.

Stuff no longer posted to the Pete Atkin Web Forum

What do voters expect Obama to do?

November 9, 2008

I wonder whether American voters really do want President-elect Barack Obama to go big and go liberal as David Sirota argues in today’s

…while the president-elect talks of forming a bipartisan Cabinet, his victory wasn’t the public’s cry for milquetoast government-by-blue-ribbon-commission. As the Center for Community Change’s Deepak Bhargava says, Obama’s win was an ideological mandate presenting “an opening for transformational, progressive change.”

Maximizing this opportunity relies on Democrats understanding the parable from Spiderman comics – the one about great power coming with “great responsibility.” In politics, that latter phrase is a euphemism for high expectations.

What the party gains in strength it loses in a Republican scapegoat that previously justified inaction. On huge issues – whether re-regulating Wall Street, reforming trade, solving the health care emergency, or ending the war in Iraq – America envisages enormous progress in the months ahead, and Democrats will have no one to blame for failure but themselves. After all, with more than 340 electoral votes, President-elect Obama cannot credibly claim he lacks the political capital to legislatively steamroll a humiliated GOP and its remaining senators. The same goes for Democrats everywhere. Meeting expectations requires championing far-reaching – even radical – initiatives.

Donna Dickenson at Oxford Christmas Book Fair

November 9, 2008

Writers In Oxford, a society of about 200 authors who reside the city, is holding a Christmas Book Fair at the The Corner Club, Oxford, on Saturday, November 22 between 10.30am and 5pm.

Cherry Moteshar, the society’s membership secretary, says the aim of the fair, the first of its kind organised by the group, is to bring the public into closer contact with authors.

Ms Moteshar says : “There are people living next to writers who are reasonably famous, but they don’t even know it”.

“This event will give people the chance to get to know writers and their works, and talk to them about the ideas behind the books.”

The Writers In Oxford chairman, Frank Egerton, first novel The Lock was published in 2003, will be participating, as will the crime writer Peter Guttridge, author of the popular Nick Madrid series of books, the erotic fiction writer Olivia Knight, and medical ethics writer Donna Dickenson, whose latest book Body Shopping, has been published recently.

For The West Wing(nuts), a dream comes true.

November 6, 2008

A letter  in today’s edition of The Guardian says it all

Is another series of The West Wing being planned? So that we can find out what happens next.
R Neil Davies
Hassocks, West Sussex


Excerpt from: The West Wing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Parallels to 2008 U.S. presidential election

Similarities between the fictional 2006 election and the real-life 2008 U.S. presidential election have been noted in the media. Specifically, it has been noted that a young minority Democratic candidate (Matthew Santos on the show, Barack Obama in real life) has a grueling but successful primary campaign against a more experienced candidate (Bob Russell on the show, Hillary Clinton in real life) and chooses an experienced Washington insider as his running mate (Leo McGarry on the show, Joe Biden in real life), whereas the Republican contest is determined early in the primary season with an aging maverick senator of a Western state being the nominee (Arnold Vinick on the show, John McCain in real life) and then a running mate from a small Republican state (West Virginia Governor Ray Sullivan on the show, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in real life)….

Clive James at Aldeburgh 2008

November 5, 2008

Clive James is launching his new book, Angels Over Elsinore, at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Saturday on Saturday the the 8th. The event will take place at the Jubilee Hall at 4pm, and tickets cost £10.

Clive James has has been steadfastly writing poetry throughout his glittering media and literary career. Celebrating the launch of Angels Over Elsinore: Collected Verse 2003-2008, here’s a rare chance to experience the man in person – outrageous, funny, sharp and unashamedly well-read – delivering poems that unite formal brilliance with his trademark talent to entertain.

This is the Amazon link to Angels Over Elsinore

Stuff no longer posted to the Pete Atkin Web Forum.



Barack Obama makes history.

November 5, 2008

Let’s hope that those of us who wished this on America have got it right.

Democratic Senator Barack Obama has been elected the first black president of the United States

Democratic Senator Barack Obama has been elected the first black president of the United States

Randy Newman – bad news and good news.

November 4, 2008

The bad news Randy Newman to cancel is European tour due to severe neck and back pain. Newman plans to reschedule all the missed dates.

The good news is that Randy’s BBC Four Session, recorded in the intimate surroundings of LSO St Luke’s in London with the strings of the BBC Concert Orchestra under the baton of Robert Ziegler,  was recorded on 22 Jun 2008 and will broadcast Friday 7 November on BBC FOUR at 10.45pm


Randy Newman rehearses with the BBC Orchestra. Photo by Matthew Rankin.