Archive for October, 2007

short poems

October 31, 2007

Today I was enjoying the expressive beauty and simplicity of style in satirical short poems. Let me share with you some of them.

A Silly Poem by Spike Milligan

Said Hamlet to Ophelia,
I’ll draw a sketch of thee,
What kind of pencil shall I use?
2B or not 2B?

The Ant by Ogden Nash

The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what?
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

My Sister Laura by Spike Milligan

My sister Laura’s bigger than me
And lifts me up quite easily.
I can’t lift her, I’ve tried and tried;
She must have something heavy inside.

Tragedy by Harry Graham

That morning, when my wife eloped
With James, our chauffeur, how I moped!
What tragedies in life there are!
I’m dashed if I can start the car.

The Termite by Ogden Nash

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good!
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.

Indifference by Harry Graham

When Grandmamma fell off the boat,
And couldn’t swim, and wouldn’t float,
Maria just sat by and smiled –
I almost could have slapped the child!

The Purist by Ogden Nash

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

message in the bottle

October 30, 2007

So, did you know that Jules Verne worked on writing librettos for operettas before his novelist career? Neither did I. But what is most interesting – that genius predicted many technological breakthroughs that happened many decades later (including what happened in Apollo space mission)

When I was a little kid, my mom used to read Les Enfants du Captain Grant every night before we went to sleep. O, how I loved to hear about adventures in that book! It starts with Lord Glenarvan and Lady Helena sailing on their ship Duncan somewhere in Scotland together with their crew. And they find a message in a bottle! Message is written on three papers in three different languages English, French and German – but since salty water entered through the bottle (during its long journey) it erased some words – so they somehow managed to compile one (still incomplete) message out of those 3 that will make sense. And so they start a search for Captain Grant whose ship sank. They have the latitude but do not have geographical longitude.

Yesterday, while I was searching for some other books, I found The Children of Captain Grant and I was so excited to start reading it again since so many years passed. If you are interested too to find out what happened in their sea adventure all over the world, you can look in the online English version of the novel or in French original version.

By the way in video above there is

First-ever live performance of “Message in a Bottle” by the Police. Song had not yet been released. Filmed for a Brit TV show called “Rock Goes to College” filmed at Hatfield Polytechnic College.

the bookfair

October 29, 2007

pete’s book
Well, today is the last day of the bookfair in my city. It always takes place in October – and it is always a great joy for me. And always the same story, I feel I never have enough money to buy everything that I would like to have…huh. When it comes to books my appetites are constantly growing – now I have less than 1.5K books in my library but I like to hear that people have more than 10 thousand books at home (I hope I will join that club somewhere in the future). To put it simply, books are like a chocolate – you can never have it enough.

This year, I am totally into reading children books. I bought two books by Pete Johnson, modern writer from Great Britain. Yesterday I read this book ‘Trust Me, I’m a Troublemaker’, and it was a lot of fun. Here is a little description from the site.

Archie is a very mature child – some would say far too mature! Having grown up with his gran, he seems to have acquired some adult ways – and the kids at his new school find them unbearable. Especially Miranda – the class troublemaker. At first she absolutely can’t stand Archie but then she starts to see him as a bit of a project- could she really make Archie into a Troublemaker Extraordinaire? Their unlikely friendship really gets going when Archie needs help to scare off his dad’s new girlfriend . . .

Corgi Children’s Books | 169-page paperback
ISBN: 044086626X

I enjoyed it so much, I was similar kid like Archie in my primary school, perhaps not so serious – but I also enjoyed to clean schoolyard :) After I read the other book, I plan to find books by Sue Townsend about Adrian Mole – I did not read them when I was younger, so I want to do it now.

Among other books I bought book about life and work of Tarkovsky, the famous Soviet movie director, and antology of humouristic poetry from the States. My sister bought book about Che Guevara, and she got autograph from Che’s daughter who was the visitor of the fair. I am so happy about that because I have very, very deep respect for Che.

board games

October 28, 2007

go board
I must say I love board games. After all it is the nice way to spend an afternoon with your monopoly-playing friends. But interesting thing is….why are board games good for? I read that there is more than a century long study on psychologic aspects of such games going on…impressive. So what do they say.

In nice article Wanna Play in Psychology Today by Jay Tietel he mentions

It is impossible to calculate how much people benefit from games:

o Games are primers on turntaking, the basis of all relationships.

o They can solve major crises in industry and teach people not to pilfer pencils from the company storeroom; in fact, companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on them for that.

o They can be training grounds for legendary generals and make the difference between winning and losing wars.

o Finally, and most important, games can reopen doors into the world of pretending and childhood, reminding us of unadulterated fun, sparking creativity.

So, what is your favourite game? I always liked chess, since my early childhood when I first saw on the photo that my uncle plays that unusual game. I asked my father to explain the rules to me, and he also bought a chess set very soon for me, and one illustrated book, so I was delighted to ponder about pawns and other figures as medieval armies in my imagination. At school I played sea battle on piece of paper with my friends, shoot invisible submarines with invisible torpedoes – it was fun. Later on I learned Go, and that game took my breath away with its infinite variety of possible moves. It is like painting your character and inner world with black and white stones on wooden table.

But I liked also to play Monopoly game, recently I played it with my little cousin, but he was constantly trying to steal monopoly money (he thought I do not see it). At first I acted as if I do not notice, but then I said stop – it is very important to play by the rules. Such is the life and everyday situations also, you have to know inner rules to get the joy in your victory and in your defeat. And very important thing that board games and sports are teaching us is fair-play.

Card games are also very nice. I like the idea of bluffing in Poker, but I never played it seriously – though I like to hear stories about card players very much and to watch such movies, as the one with Matt Damon.

But the game I would like to learn to play is Diplomacy. Several reasons for that. First, I want to learn more about history in Napoleonic wars, and WWI and WWII (game starts in 1901, so it is best for learning about WWI). And learning history without paying attention to diplomatic intricacies is incomplete. So, somehow I want to feel the history of Europe – not just to learn dates mechanically. I have a feeling that would be very challenging and interesting thing to do.