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I have written several times in these chronicles of my slow-burn devotion to the works of P G Wodehouse, including my induction (How to read P G Wodehouse: a practical guide), drawing on the excellent advice of fellow WordPress blogger and Wodehouse specialist Plumtopia – strongly recommended for all things Jeeves and Wooster and beyond.
Hence my concern, bordering on panic, at my initial perception that “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit” was not quite such a pearl of the Wodehouse canon as, say, the wondrous Thank you, Jeeves. Bertie Wooster’s early decision to grow a moustache, to the disapproval of Jeeves, felt a little familiar as a plot device. The plot of the first half of the book meandered – well, I am reminded of Bertie’s description of Daphne Dolores Morehead on her first appearance in the novel as having “a figure as full of curves as a scenic railway”.
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”
That very reference to Ms Morehead, however, signals my sense of relief that I can in fact recommend “Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit”, the seventh P G Wodehouse novel to feature Jeeves and Wooster and his sixtieth book overall, wholeheartedly. From about the half-way point, the story spreads its wings. The subsequent flight is sublime. The scene following the unexpected arrival of the aforementioned Daphne at Brinkley Court is amongst the funniest (more…)
My blog The Simpsons – existential, circular fantasy 9/10 argued that that “The Simpsons” was the most sophisticated show on TV.
I still think so.
Back then I praised Series 25, Episode 20, Brick Like Me, in which I noted the parallels between the episode and the 1955 Frederik Pohl short story The Tunnel Under the World, with its exploration (as in Brick Like Me) of the horrors of unfettered capitalism.
Trash of the Titans is the 22nd episode of the 9th season of the Simpsons, from 1998. It is the 200th episode overall. Do the producers make a special effort with round-numbered episodes? Maybe they do: Brick Like Me was episode 550.
Trash of the Titans looks at what can happen when democracy goes wrong:
(i) an evil corporation, trying to fill a lull in sales of its useless toys, cards and gifts over the summer, invents “Love Day” to boost sales (a naive executive who argues they should accept the lull – “hey, we’re making enough money, right?” is ejected by goons). Shortly after, the Simpsons are celebrating “Love Day”, despite Lisa pointing out that “the stores just invented this holiday to make money”. The family exchange gifts, which they unwrap and discard, generating huge amounts of garbage;
(ii) following an argument with the bin men, Homer runs for Springfield sanitary commissioner against the worthy and efficient incumbent. Homer’s slogan, designed to “appeal to all the lazy slobs out there” is “Can’t someone else do it?” He ridicules his opponent with personal attacks (“you told people I lured children into my gingerbread house”, complains the incumbent later. “That was just a lie”, says Homer). When the incumbent tells the electorate they have a choice between “an experienced public servant” or “a bunch of crazy promises” from “a sleazy lunatic”, the electorate vote in Homer in a landslide. His chaotic efforts leads to an environmental catastrophe and Homer is thrown out of office.
Some of this, at least, seems topical.
The episode contains some fine gags (Homer: “It’s just like David and Goliath, only this time, David won!”)
Trash of the Titans does not have the depth of some of my favourites, such as Brick Like Me or Homer the Heretic (also referenced in my earlier blog, and which disproves my round-number theory being episode 62 overall). But it is classic Simpsons in examining profound issues in an entertaining, near-subliminal way.
Obviously, though, it has not stopped anyone voting for people making crazy promises – or, for that matter, buying useless gifts with excess packaging.
For: consistently funny episode whose hard-hitting messages remain topical.
Against: not as thought-provoking as the best episodes. So only 8/10.
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The pattern is unmistakeable.
A graph shows a financial trend-line (the price of gold) going up and down a couple of times, then declining more steeply.
Around the trend-line, someone has sketched a crude profile of a camel, its head lowered as if to vomit.
Welcome to the wonderful world of the Vomiting Camel, a spoof species of technical analysis created by FT writer @katie_martin_fx to poke fun at how so-called technical analysts attempt to predict future price movements of eg stocks or oil or gold by drawing lines on graphs to identify trends.
You can read her brilliant article (more…)
No seats. Outrageous spectacles. An enigmatic, four hundred-year-old name. What is it that makes “Zum Schwarzen Kameel” stand out?
Some of the decorative detail in the Kameel is breath-taking – RP
Nestled in the heart of the First District close to a plethora of so-called designer shops (Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel et al), the Kameel is frequently packed with both tourists and well-heeled locals enjoying an eclectic blend of alcohol, open sandwiches, cakes and hot beverages. My first impression was: “all a bit much” (or, as the Germans might say, schickimicki). My second, and conclusive, impression was: “des hot wos” (more…)
Attentive readers will know that, Wodehouse-wise, I am a slow-burn fanatic.
Since 2017 I have been relishing a mouth-watering shelf-full of Wodehouse in a hand-tooled Folio Society edition, pausing occasionally to jot down a quote or two.
The cover of my Folio Society edition of “Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen”
Recent pleasures have included Thank You, Jeeves (click link for five wondrous quotations) and Ring for Jeeves, which also teemed with quotables. Indeed, my researches on P G Wodehouse have revealed a distressing paucity of quality Wodehouse quotes on the Internet which I am doing my best to remedy.
So for all you Wodehouse aficionados out there, here is a selection of quotations from Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen:
- ‘Nice girl,’ I said, for there is never any harm in giving the old salve. ‘And, of course, radiant-beauty-wise in the top ten.’ [Orlo’s] eyes bulged, at the same time flashing, as if he were on the verge of making a fiery far-to-the-left speech. ‘You know her?’ he said, and his voice was low and guttural, like that of a bulldog which has attempted to swallow a chump chop and only got it down halfway. (more…)
The Klimt masterpieces have been seen only twice in the last 127 years.
Yet they have been on show all the time.
It makes some sense.
The paintings are rendered doubly enticing by the juxtaposition of columns – Photo RP
In 1891 Gustav Klimt, at the age of 29 already a successful painter, was commissioned as one of several artists to paint murals in the mighty main staircase of the newly-built Kunsthistorisches Museum (KHM) in Vienna – a kind of combined British Museum and National Gallery. The paintings are epic in scale, stretching from one side of the vast space to the other.
I noticed the paintings at once when I visited the KHM in 2016 and wanted to get a good look at them. But I couldn’t. (more…)
My famous Vienna Cafe Reviews note the alleged “no kissing” rule in the Cafe Malipop; and promise a story from 1986.
Here it is. It concerns the Gmoa Keller, right here in Vienna.
Back in 1986 I looked something like this
In the 1980s, the Gmoa Keller was a tenebrous place, damp with history and rich with atmosphere. It was run by two elderly sisters from the Burgenland, Grete Novak and Hedi Vécsei. Grete had been in charge since taking over from her uncle, Andreas Herzog, in the ’60s. He in turn had run the place since 1936.
Late one night, my girlfriend Nicky and I took refuge there from a bitterly cold, wet evening. We ordered beers. We were the only guests.
The beer, and the safe haven of the Gmoakeller, warmed us up. A hint of kissing arose. Nothing ostentatious: a nuzzle, perhaps, a cheek to a neck.
Grete shuffled across to where we were sitting. She leaned down to my ear almost as though she were about to kiss me herself. (more…)