Friday, May 30, 2008

Things You Shouldn't Have To Say ...

Posted by ShoZu

... but do.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Mural Grows

Posted by ShoZu

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome To Madrid, Home Of The 0.74 Euro Bottle Of Wine

Posted by ShoZu

Saturday Catblogging--Feral Madrid Edition

Posted by ShoZu

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

End Of Football Season, Until Next Month

Because Americans Amuck readers want to read, and not just look at purty pictures:

Tonight is the final of the UEFA Champions League, the tournament among the top teams of the various national football leagues in Europe, in Moscow. The first two years we lived here, an English team played in the final both times, only to be defeated (by a Spanish side in 2006 and an Italian side in 2007). I felt like I had some emotional connection to the 2006 game since our neighborhood team, Arsenal , was in it. This year, an English side is certain to win, since the final is between Chelsea, from southwest London, and Manchester United, from, um, Manchester. I don't feel any emotional investment in the game, although I will watch. A contest between those two teams is like watching Notre Dame vs. Michigan--they can't both lose, so I cheer for career-ending injuries.

Now with the final of the FA Cup over the weekend, the football season is over. Or wait, is it? In just a couple of weeks, Euro 2008 begins, the tournament among the national sides of Europe. It's sometimes called the best tournament in football, since it's a tournament among the greatest concentration of really good football-playing nations.

England will not be in it this year, failing to qualify. As a result, it looks like a bad summer for the broadcasters that bet on England being in the tournament. Advertisers have been forced to take a different tack. You'll remember that Mars bars changed their names to Believe bars two years ago for the World Cup. This year Mars is giving away 100,000 footballs to bring back the "kick-about" (the linked article fails to mention Mars' 2006 campaign). To the extent that people are outside playing a game rather than inside watching it, that's probably a good thing. It does smack of desperation, however.

And then, the tournament's over in late June, and it's over for awhile right? Wrong. The Community Shield match to kick off the English season is Aug. 10. And it all starts again ....

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Waterlow Park Fauna

Posted by ShoZu

Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Moonblogging

Posted by ShoZu

Boris Lies

Well, we learn from Annie Mole that Boris' promise to bring back the Routemaster may not happen, which means we really will be stuck with those stupid, not-designed-for-narrow-London-streets bendy buses, which can't fit down the street, annoy taxi drivers because they can't fit in the designated bus stop areas, and by the way endanger pedestrians.

Of course, being a good right-winger, Boris would go back on a promise to do a good idea but would never back down on an authoritarian promise, which is the Tube drinking ban. Annie Mole reminds us of the final night parties on the Circle Line. Drink up: Happy hour is now enforced by law.

UPDATED: For more good anti-Boris vitriol, go visit London Geezer, who unfortunately doesn't make his permalinks obvious.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bucolic England

Posted by ShoZu

Friday, May 16, 2008

Growing Mural--The Bigger Picture

Posted by ShoZu

Growing A Whitecross Street Mural?

Posted by ShoZu

Friday Catblogging

Wapping cat didn't want to be friends.

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

I Got Nuthin'

So, in honor of the time of year, I'll post this anthem about planning your wardrobe in changing weather conditions:

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Like Frampton, London Comes Alive

Howdy. London has shaken itself of 18 months of March and become a summertime city. After the near-nonstop rain of last summer (I saw my breath on July 31--no joke) nothing could be more welcome. Mrs. Werbenmanjensen and I decided to take a long walk through the city, to the South Bank, and then take a detour through Wapping on the way back home. Photos from it are immediately downstairs.

Among the places we went was the Wapping steps (pictured below) that led to Execution Dock, where pirates were executed. Their bodies were left to hang at the low-water mark, and then the tide was allowed to wash over their heads three times, a ceremony known as the "Grace of Wapping."

Also, as you can see, I've taken advantage of my new iPhone and a ShoZu account to do some mobile blogging. Expect more of this in the future.

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The Gherkin Is Your North Star

Posted by ShoZu

The Grace Of Wapping--Explanation Later

Posted by ShoZu

St. Mary-le-Bow: If You Can Hear It, You're Cockney

Posted by ShoZu

The First Bomb Is The Deepest

Posted by ShoZu

Friday, May 09, 2008

Friday Catblogging

This charming fellow seemed to make his home in the gardens of Dublin Castle.

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Whitecross Street Friday

Posted by ShoZu

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Hello, Boris, part deux.

Annie Mole was right. As she notes on her wonderful blog, Boris' first move as mayor will be to ban drinking on the Tube as a crime prevention tool. For those who haven't ridden on the Tube, it's not uncommon, particularly on the weekend and particularly on lines going to and from football matches, to see riders knocking back a lager on board the Tube. I've never done it, but it's nice to know you can.

I can think of a really good reason to ban drinking on the Tube, but crime isn't it. (Cleanliness is--but then we'd have to ban dogs too, and you'd better believe that would be a non-starter.) I've never witnessed a crime on the Tube, nor does it seem to be a frequently reported problem. So, what Boris has done is a conservative political stunt that would make Karl Rove sit up and notice--frighten voters about a non-existent problem and then identify a way to eliminate the non-existent problem by taking away a civil liberty. Bravo, Boris. It's gonna be a long four years.

Updated: Look! It's here already!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Dublin Scene

I guess the war isn't over for everybody.

(Photo by Mrs. W.)

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Deep Thought

Monday, May 05, 2008

So long, Ken. Hello, Boris.

I don't know how much the news of this gets back home, and since many of our readers are Americans, I think it's probably OK to do a post on this:

We left London a Labour constituency a week ago and returned home yesterday to a city ruled by a Tory. One of the many victims in the local elections last week--Labour's worst shellacking in decades--was "Red" Ken Livingstone, the first-ever mayor of London's fifty-odd boroughs (not to be confused with the Lord Mayor of the City of London, which is ... a complicated distinction). As a non-voter, I didn't bother to pay too close of attention to the race. I think I can tell you more about the Clinton-Obama race than I can tell you about Ken v. Boris. I can tell you that in addition to believing in most of what he has done for the city, I admire Ken: He's a brave politician who doesn't parse words, and even if you disagree with him you can respect what he's done. I think London's congestion charge is a model for what every over-automobiled city needs to do to bring some sanity to how people move about. His deal with Hugo Chavez was a brilliant thumb in the eye of most First World leaders. He did compare one of his many interrogators, a Jewish reporter, to a concentration camp guard, and there was corruption, so I suppose there were plenty of reasons to hate Ken.

Most of my English friends are Labour-leaning, and so are fearful of what the new mayor will do. I'm not so much, even though I would have voted for Livingstone if I were allowed to vote. Boris Johnson is a bicycle rider himself, so he knows what it's like out there on the streets. He hates the bendy buses and will bring back board-at-the-back Routemasters, which I agree with, although the cost of putting two London transit staff on each bus may make it cost-prohibitive. Maybe at long last he'll sack Ian Blair, whose cover-up following the fatal shooting of an innocent man is one of the great unpunished crimes of our time.

My big fear with Johnson is that he'll do away with the congestion charge. His big support most likely came from the outer boroughs, and as such they probably feel unfairly burdened by the idea that they have to pay to drive their car into my neighborhood, no matter if the street and parking system isn't big enough to handle it, and never will be.

In truth, Ken's undoing was probably as much the fault of his party as himself. Labour has done much to alienate its core constituency, from their plans to get rid of the lowest tax bracket to their plans to allow police to jail terrorism suspects for up to 42 days before requiring that charges be filed. If your rank and file aren't excited about your program, you'll have problems in any election.

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Deep Thought

How is that hoteliers have mastered the art of installing multi-voltage, multi-plug outlets for men's shavers, but not for any other personal appliance?

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