Clive James RIP

Clive James (1939-2019) has just died. He was a poet, novelist, writer, TV critic and TV showman famous as a wit and a humorist, although I never found him to be very funny. Strangely, not actually being funny is apparently not a barrier to acquiring a reputation as a comic writer, as the careers of Howard Jacobson and Saul Bellow demonstrate. Jacobson, an Honorary Life Member of the UK branch of the Expatriate Australian Mutual Admiration Society, praises his fellow Society member in today’s Grauniad.

Continue reading ‘Clive James RIP’


The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
How quickly daft jumping zebras vex!
The five boxing wizards jump quickly.
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.

Piping 101


Leslie Claret (Kurtwood Smith) in Patriot (S1, Ep2, min 17):

Sell them on the structure. You can talk about it with confidence. Keep it simple. A little something like this, John.

Hey. Let me walk you through the Donnelly nut spacing and crack system rim-riding rip configuration. Using a field of half-C sprats, and brass-fitted nickel slits, our bracketed caps, and splay-flexed brace columns, vent dampers to dampening hatch depths of one half meter from the damper crown to the spur of plinth. How? Well, we bolster twelve husked nuts to each girdle-jerry, while flex tandems press a task apparatus of ten vertically-composited patch-hamplers. Then, pinflam-fastened pan traps at both maiden-apexes of the jim-joist.

A little something like that, Lakeman.

Praise to the writers of this series! The sounds here reminded me of the second stanza of Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin:

Hamelin Town’s in Brunswick,
By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
From vermin, was a pity.

They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks’ own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men’s Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women’s chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

Is it you, here on LinkedIn?

From the old LinkedIn page of TH:

Evangelizing since childhood. My first evangelization was with “an ordinary man”. He was a shadow of doubt. I told him anyone would be, if anyone would be him. But that it was not the issue. Jazz was the issue, and he listened.
Second, third, and fourth. They were the usual suspects. And were happy with a bird. Only a bird. Can you imagine.
The next. And next, that must be you. Let me ask you. Is it you, here on LinkedIn? Or your question mark. Your exclamation mark, a wish, an unconviction.
Start central is all what I’m saying. Rhythm.
Specialties: Unspecializing in any sense, and making sense of the rhythm. Cache-cache.”

Ho ho

Yo, mofos and ototos!

Oi, oi! This is just too-too for Hulu! If you’re chatting with a go-go dancer playing with a yoyo solo in Kokomo, or wearing a kimono in Beaudo visiting with ScoMo (who’s no bozo) and Joe Rokocoko about CoCo bonds or lobo loans pro bono from MoFo or the crisis with NoKo, here’s the low-do to write a promo in bopomofo quomodocumque (to publish in HoPoS):

Saw FloJo and schlomo toe-beau toy-boy BoJo, fresh from Xoyo, at a HoJo in SoHo go bomo poco a poco with Coco and majordomo Tojo (ignoring kodo-ha) – listening to Moloko, Kokoroko and El Topo play joropo on the koto and the shoko, singing in SeSotho about the dodo, with kokoro. Have robophoto, but it’s no podo. Their ro-ro pogo is to eat faux pho, fro-yo, choko gateaux and an iced vo-vo at a toro table while drinking toso at smoko with the Poqo povo at Xoxo listening to Radio Station Kozo, and later watching a slo-mo doco about Hagoromo in mono with Koko, Komo, Mo-Do, a hobo and okomo Perry Como in the so-so rococo Po-Mo rojo bobo boho lodo BoCo CoCo gogo dojo, “Spodo Komodo“. Bolo.

Fogo? No no, fomo! Whaumau! Indeed, fomo con moto! With added mojo! paMoto! Yolo! Makorokoto! OTOH, they’re loco about their okoto. So, nodo, RoPo popo, no no. Loto.

Domo arigato. XOXO.

Yo – Hey (salutation)
mofos – mother f***ers
ototos – younger brothers
Oi, oi – Hey (salutation, ancient Greek)
too-too – overly
Hulu – American video-on-demand service
go-go dancer – nightclub danced employed to entertain patrons
yoyo – child’s toy
solo – alone
Kokomo – a city in Indiana
kimono – Japanese garment
Beaudo – Beaudesert, Queensland
ScoMo – Scott Morrison, Australian politician, now Prime Minister
bozo – idiot
Joe Rokocoko – New Zealand rugby union player
CoCo bonds – Contingent Convertible bonds
lobo loans – lender option, borrower option loans
pro bono – for the good of the public (Latin)
MoFo – US law firm Morrison and Foerster
NoKo – North Korea
low-do – low down
promo – promotion
bopomofo – a transliteration system for Chinese
quomodocumque – in whatever fashion (Latin)
HoPoS – Journal of the History and Philosophy of Science
FloJo – Florence Griffith-Joyner, American athlete
schlomo – lazy person
toe-beau – foot-fetishing lover
toy-boy – younger male lover
BoJo – Boris Johnson, British politician
Xoyo – a nightclub in London, England
HoJo – Howard Johnson (hotel chain)
SoHo – South of Houston street, area of Manhatten
bomo – black out make out (kissing or petting while intoxicated)
poco a poco – little by little (Italian)
Coco – character in 2017 Pixar/Disney animated movie
majordomo Tojo – Hideki Tojo, Japanese military leader and Prime Minister
kodo-ha – imperial doctrine (Japanese)
Moloko – English pop duo
Kokoroko – London, UK, Afrobeat group
El Topo – Puerto Rican musician, Antonio Cabán Vale
joropo – creole musical style from Venezuala and Columbia
koto – Japanese stringed instrument
shoko – Japanese gong
SeSotho – the language of Lesotho
dodo – flightless bird
kokoro – emotions, feelings (Japanese)
robophoto – automated photo
podo – pants down
ro-ro – stupid person or behaviour
pogo – making fun of someone behind their back
faux – false (French)
pho – a type of Vietnamese soup
fro-yo – frozen yogurt
choko – a type of vegetable, common in Australia
gateaux – a cake
iced vo-vo – a type of biscuit in Australia
toro – a tree from New Zealand
toso – spiced sake (Japan)
smoko – smoking break (Australian)
Poqo – the armed wing of the Pan-African Congress of South Africa
povo – the people (Zimbabwe, from the Portuguese)
Xoxo – an arts festival in Portland, Oregon
Radio Station Kozo – radio station in Branson, Missouri
slo-mo – slow motion
doco – documentary
Hagoromo – a Japanese Noh play
mono – a single audio stream
Koko – a gorilla who knew sign language (died 2018)
Komo – Nigerian-British rap artist
Mo-Do – Maureen Dowd, American journalist
hobo – homeless person
okomo – a very fine person
Perry Como – American singer
so-so – mediocre
rococo – excessive late Baroque style
Po-Mo – Post Modern
rojo – vulgar fashion
bobo – bourgeois bohemian
boho – bohemian
lodo – Lower Downtown, precinct of Denver, Colorado
BoCo – Boulder, Colorado
CoCo – Co-creative co-working space
gogo – energetic, upbeat (a style of music with non-stop drum beats across multiple songs)
dojo – martial arts studio
”Spodo Komodo“ – a priest mentioned by Mrs Doyle in the Christmas Special of Channel 4 TV series Father Ted
Bolo – Be on the look out
fogo – fear of going out
fomo – fear of missing out
whaumau – fomo (Maori)
con moto – with motion (Italian)
mojo – personal power, force
paMoto – on fire (chiShona)
Yolo – you only live once
Makorokoto – Congratulations (chiShona)
OTOH –  on the other hand
loco – mad
okoto – achieving one’s life’s passion
nodo – nothing doing
RoPo – Rohnert Park, California
popo – the police
Loto – Lock out, tag out
Domo arigato – Thankyou (Japanese)
XOXO – Love and Kisses

Reader's Digest Condensed Haiku

From the letters column of The Grauniad of 12 April 2008:
“Like many people nowadays, I rarely have time to sit down and read a whole haiku (Letters, March 22; Letters, March 29). This prompted my “Short Poem About Brevity” –
Haiku, why ramble so?”
Steven Handsaker
Barnstaple, Devon

Home, James!

“Nothing that is mere wordplay is ever witty,” says Clive James in today’s Grauniad. This statement is so profoundly wrong, one has to wonder if it is meant to be satire. To see how wrong it is, start by reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets, where mere wordplay produces some of the most clever wit in English. Finish by reading or watching pretty much any play by Tom Stoppard, or any episode of Seinfeld. What was James thinking?
Continue reading ‘Home, James!’


From the Wikipedia page on Amusement:  “Current studies have not yet reached consensus on the exact purpose of amusement . . . “.  Surely, the purpose of amusement is amusement, and if you have to ask for an explanation you will never get the joke. (HT: JD)

42 again

Following my recent post on the meaning of life, I recalled Georges Perec’s great novel, Life: A User’s Manual, which I first encountered in a 1987 book review by Paul Auster in the New York Times, here.

If anyone can be called the central character in this shifting, kaleidoscopic work, it would have to be Percival Bartlebooth, an eccentric English millionaire whose insane and useless 50-year project serves as an emblem for the book as a whole. Realizing as a young man that his wealth has doomed him to a life of boredom, Bartlebooth undertakes to study the art of watercolor with Serge Valene for a period of 10 years. Although he has no aptitude whatsoever for painting, he eventually reaches a satisfactory level of competence. Then, in the company of a servant, he sets out on a 20-year voyage around the world with the sole intention of painting watercolors of 500 different harbors and seaports.
As soon as one of these pictures is finished, he sends it to a man in Paris by the name of Gaspard Winckler, who also lives in the building. Winckler is an expert puzzle-maker whom Bartlebooth has hired to turn the watercolors into 750-piece jigsaw puzzles. One by one, the puzzles are made and stored in wooden boxes. When Bartlebooth returns from his travels and settles back into his apartment, he will methodically go about putting the puzzles together in chronological order. By means of an elaborate chemical process, the borders of the puzzle pieces have been glued together in such a way that the seams are no longer visible, thus restoring the watercolor to its original integrity. The painting, good as new, can then be removed from its wooden backing and sent to the place where it was originally executed. There it will be dipped into a detergent solution that eliminates all traces of the painting, yielding a clean and unmarked sheet of paper.
In other words, Bartlebooth will be left with nothing, the same thing he started with.

The idea of wasting the second half of your life trying to make sense of all you did in the first half I have found to be increasingly insightful as I age.

FWIW, Auster’s 1987 review appears to have been plagiarized, without any acknowledgement, in this 1999 post.