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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Brit, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 48 of 48
26. Week 3 storytime video: The Terrible Lie

The Terrible Lie from Jonathan Michael on Vimeo.

(no need for a code, just click ENTER)

visit the The Jesus Storybook Bible site to learn more
buy the book: here
download audio on The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name (Unabridged) or amazon

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27. Norman Foster & Dr Seuss: Constraints and Inspiration

Interesting article about Norman Foster and the tiny sliver of a building he is designing in the Bowery. He has come up with an ingenius use of an elevator to do it. Foster said he had managed not to be daunted by the notion of stacking galleries with such a circumscribed footprint on top of one another; instead, Mr. Foster said, “it’s a case of the constraints finally becoming the inspiration."


The constraints that limit you can actually lead to the inspiration. Freedom isn't always about having no boundaries, it's more about being able to run free because you have them... Like sheep on a cliff... without the fence they aren't free. (Or they're free to leap off the cliff and die I suppose.) But with the fence they can be move about freely without fear... even run. Anyway all that rambling on about sheep and fences and fear to say... limits sometime make you cleverer.

Take Dr Seuss for example. The Cat In The Hat came about because his publisher challenged him to write a beginning reading book with only a limited vocabulary. It has only 223 different words. (The word cloud shows the words he used, minus "the", "and" and "I".) With a tiny pile of short words he created a classic.

Seuss found the limited vocabulary challenging and, after a period of frustration, simply chose the first two words on the word list that rhymed: "Cat" and "Hat".

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28. Week 2 storytime video: The Beginning

The Beginning: A Perfect Home from Jonathan Michael on Vimeo.
(no need for a code, just click ENTER)

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29. priceless treasure under your feet

"A harvest of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver so beautiful it brought tears to the eyes of one expert, has poured out of a Staffordshire field - the largest hoard of gold from the period ever found."



And it was found in July in a farmer's field by Terry Herbert, an amateur metal detector who lives alone in a council flat on disability benefit, who had never before found anything remotely as valuable.

This time though he uncovered a hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold so large it will "redefine the Dark Ages." It's been declared treasure (which means it belongs to the Queen). They think it's from the late 7th or early 8th century--and that it must have belonged to a king because there is so much of it and all it's so valuable. There are 1500 pieces so far--weapons, helmet decorations, Christian crosses and hundreds still embedded in blocks of soil.

How many people I wonder walked over that bit of mud little realizing priceless treasure was under their feet. And how many times, I wonder, did people laugh and make fun of Terry Herbert out there in the fields with his metal detector. And what treasure might be lying under our feet?

Treasure buried in a field. Hmm. Reminds me of a story Someone told once ...

You can watch Terry Herbert talk about it here and read more here.

3 Comments on priceless treasure under your feet, last added: 10/8/2009
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30. The last Welsh-born true Prince of Wales

Today, 16 September, in 1400, Owain Glyndwr, was proclaimed Prince of Wales. He was the last truly Welsh-born Prince of Wales...

Here's part 1 of a great BBC documentary about this hero. An intellectual, cultured, Prince who reluctantly led his countrymen to war against England in the 15th century and came so close to achieving a remarkable transformation of his country.



Makes a girl extra proud of her Welsh ancestry.

But what I want to know is... why is he so NOT well known? When we've all heard of the famous Scot, William Wallace (Brave Heart)...? This guy seems to me to be just as heroic, if not more ...

2 Comments on The last Welsh-born true Prince of Wales, last added: 9/19/2009
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31. avoiding temptation...


"Don't worry about avoiding temptation.
As you grow older, it will avoid you."
-- Sir Winston Churchill

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32. Fourth Plinth

(Plinth is a nice word. And Fourth Plinth is even nicer. It's also quite nice to say it twice. Fourth Plinth Fourth Plinth. Except then you feel as if you have something wrong with your tongue)

Trafalgar Square has four plinths. (Sorry. Why are you telling us this again?) The plinths are these enormous pedestals that stand at the four corners of the square. Three of them hold statues of George IV, Henry Havelock, and Sir Charles James Napier. (No, seriously, why?)

The fourth plinth (fourth plinth fourth plinth) on the northwest corner was going to hold a statue of William IV, but they ran out of money. And then no one could agree which hero or king should go up there. So, instead, they didn't put anyone there.

So the fourth is vacant.

These plinths are usually reserved for statues of Kings and Generals but for the next 100 days, there will be real live people standing on the fourth plinth as living statues, taking it in turns, for an hour at a time, (even if it's 2AM and pouring rain).

Jason Clark, 41, an NHS nurse from Brighton, was the second person to stand on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth

Anyone can apply (but you have to live in the UK) and you can watch what people are up to here on the live video. There's a warning on the site that they may be up to all kinds of anythings... (one man dressed up as a poo).

Read more here.

(I think, due to them being the most famous feature of the square, wouldn't the most appropriate statue to put on the fourth plinth be of a great big giant pigeon?)

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33. new forest donkey

I think he's interested in taking it to go.

There aren't just New Forest Donkeys. There are also the famous New Forest Ponies who run free across the open heather-covered heath, wander through the ancient forests, across roads, stroll into shops. It's true. They really do.


I went to boarding school in the New Forest (which of course is extremely ancient) and they are part of the scenery. They had free reign of the place. Actually so did we.

It was a different time and a quite magical place to be a child.

1 Comments on new forest donkey, last added: 6/22/2009
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34. how to get wedlocked

Just came across this new book "Wedlock," by Wendy Moore: about how a countess escaped a frightful violent dreadful awful marriage. Back in 1700 and something no less.

The book is called Wedlock: The True Story of the Disastrous Marriage and Remarkable Divorce of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore and you can check out the review in the NYT here.

It's not just the divorce that was remarkable. There's something else (for those who haven't guessed) which will make you want to read the book all the more. Or at least it does me. Clue: read to the end of the article. Other clue: she had the same greyish blue eyes.

1 Comments on how to get wedlocked, last added: 5/27/2009
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35. Fat Birds, Mary Poppins, Bankers, and What Life Asks of Us



here's the bankers' song from Mary Poppins. The Fidelity Fiduciary Bank Sing Along, is it's actual title. why am I subjecting you to this?

well bankers are, of course, much in the news of late and these ones seem to have seen straight into the future ... plus it's always a good time for Mary Poppins and anyway it's mentioned in a very cool article in the NYT by David Brooks, which you can read here.

BTW: Did you know the old guy is actually Dick Van Dyck? And apparently, the children weren't told who this was ("Bert") and their first on-camera reactions were genuine, they hadn't seen him yet... they totally thought this old guy was about to die of a heart attack!

My favorite bits are when he comes down the stairs and also when he keeps nearly falling over as he sings about the banks falling... he's a bit of a genius I think.

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36. P.S. to atheist bus ads

Remember that post about the aetheist bus ads that have been run on 800 buses across Britain? well here's a cartoon response a friend told me about (any Brit—or New Yorker who's ever waited for The Phantom Bus of 72nd St—of course can identify):

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37. 12 Million! Holy Crap!

The publishing trades are all abuzz with the news that Scholastic has ordered a 12 million first printing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

All I can say is holy, holy, holy crap!

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38. Al and Sock Monkey Dark and Stormy Night

Continuing our Al and Monkey series here's some background. Johnny Vegas and his knitted sidekick Monkey were catapulted to fame thanks to the commercials they did to launch ITV Digital in the UK. (I'll post one of those later.) Now they're doing PG Tips ads. (You saw them interviewed in an earlier post.)

PG Tips first introduced teabags in 1930. Its advertising was traditionally featuring real chimpanzees engaging in human activities. Today, it's a stuffed sock that's being the refined human. click here to watch one of Al and Monkey's fabulous adverts. I think it's living proof that the Brits really are the best at adverts (and silliness).

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39. Al and Monkey attempt a military operation

click here to watch this short clip that illustrates the crucialness of tea in all circumstances, all walks of life, at any given moment of the day.

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40. end of shortwave service in Europe

did you ever hear one of those scratchy radio transmissions? that's shortwave and the beeb (the fond name we Brits have for the BBC, for anyone not British reading this blog) started doing them to reach listeners cut off by "desert, snow and sea" 75 years ago. That ended on Monday. (Too bad I guess for anyone unlucky enough to be in a desert, a blizzard or on some high seas.)

As the NYT reports: "The quiet ending for the service was a contrast with its celebrated arrival. Seventy-five years ago, King George V helped promote the new technology from his small study in the British royal family’s Norfolk retreat, Sandringham. In a speech written by the poet Rudyard Kipling, the king extolled radio as a way to reach out to men and women isolated by snow and sea.

'Through one of the marvels of modern science, I am enabled this Christmas Day to speak to all my people throughout the empire,' the king said.

The abdication speech of Edward VIII was broadcast on shortwave, as was news of the Hindenburg airship’s explosion and Hungarian Free Radio’s last anguished call for aid as Russian tanks rumbled into Budapest."

So I didn't feel it was quite right not to mention it. And have it go unnoticed by most. It almost feels like we should be having a moment's silence. Or standing up and singing the national anthem. Or, at the very least, saluting someone. Shouldn't we?

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41. Charlie bit me!

just can't stop watching this... could it be more perfect? anyway, what better way to start the week?

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42. Beware the Fake Mars Bar: US or British?

Continuing our Fine British Chocolate Series, today we turn our attention to The Mars Bar.

Some Important Mars Bars Facts you may unaware of:
—In Scotland they deep fry Mars bars
—It's best to squeeze Mars Bars to ensure freshness (they should be a bit squishable)
—It's not "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"; it's really, "A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play". (Remember this. It could be important.)
—The singular of Mars Bars isn't A Mar Bar (when I was 2, I did not know this)
—The full name of a Mars Bar is not a Martian Bar (but why not?)

But perhaps the most crucially important fact is:
Not all Mars Bars are really Mars Bars.

yes, they may say they are Mars Bars.
yes, you may believe them to be Mars Bars.
They may even have Mars Bars written all over their wrappers.
Do not fall for it.

Some are Impostors.

Who are these Impostors? you cry. Hint: American in origin.

Don't believe me? There exists, in a secret location, a highly scientific MARS BAR PROJECT that, with cross-sections, complex diagrams and clever facts, proves it. Find out more. But to prove it once and for all you just have to eat one (a proper British one).

Don't know how to recognize the real thing (i.e. you're not British)?

There follows a brief introduction to The True Mars Bar:

First, we observe the true, original Mars Bar in all its British glory (see how it shines?):
We see the Mars Bar unwrapped (look how delicious!):
We see the Mars Bar half eaten (and so gungey!):
And finally, we behold the empty wrapper:Pay close attention the next time you spy a Mars Bar in a US store. Ask yourself: does he look exactly the same? what about his wrapper? But be warned: once you taste the real thing there is no going back.

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43. The King's English and the shorter, concrete, familiar, single best word

Lexicographer Henry Watson Fowler, born in Tonbridge, Kent, England (1858-1933), studied at Oxford and taught Latin, Greek, and English at a boy's school in northwest England for 17 years, before resigning and moving to a tiny island in the English Channel (Guernsey), building himself a one room cottage, and turning into a hermit.

There he spent all his time writing enough essays to fill two book length manuscripts but he couldn't get them published. Until one day he had an idea...

He would write: "a sort of English composition manual, from the negative point of view, for journalists & amateur writers." So, collaborating with his brother, he wrote The King's English (1906), published by Oxford University Press. It begins:

"Any one who wishes to become a good writer should endeavour, before he allows himself to be tempted by the more showy qualities, to be direct, simple, brief, vigorous, and lucid."

The first chapter, entitled "Vocabulary," lays out the following principles:

"Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
Prefer the short word to the long.
Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance."

The book was a success and he was commissioned to produce more. His biggest success was A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (1926), a collection of common mistakes in English, organized into categories. Things like: "Battered Ornaments," "Love of the Long Word," "Sturdy Indefensibles," "Swapping Horses," and "Unequal Yokefellows."

T. S. Eliot said, "Every person who wishes to write ought to read A Dictionary of Modern English Usage ... for a quarter of an hour every night before going to bed."

So there.

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44. a lump in the throat

Frost said, "A poem begins with a lump in the throat; a homesickness or a love-sickness. It is a reaching out toward expression, an effort to find fulfillment. A complete poem is one where an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found the word."

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45. Annie Leibovitz - Monarchy

The most famous woman in the world photographed by the most famous photographer of the most famous in the world.

Annie Leibovitz shoots the queen... very interesting stuff. you actually see the cultures clashing right in front of your very eyes.

(And you can hardly blame the Queen. Is there, do you think, a more foolish thing to say to Her Majesty, dressed up in her full Imperial Royal Regalia?)

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46. Subprime Banking Mess

John Bird and John Fortune (the Long Johns) (who I think surely must have written that interview "the front fell of" in the last post) here brilliantly describing the mindset of the investment banking community in this "interview."

Shows how great comedy is for pointing out the ridiculousness of things. The only trouble is no one takes it seriously.

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47. success...

"Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm."

- Sir Winston Churchill

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48. a good proper royal title

Did you know, when she crowned in 1952, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s full title was over 200 words long, and included such heady terms as “Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle.”

here it is in full: (try saying that every time you'd like her to pass the toast)

"Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich, Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Sovereign of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Sovereign of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Sovereign of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Sovereign of the Distinguished Service Order, Sovereign of the Imperial Service Order, Sovereign of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Sovereign of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Sovereign of the Order of British India, Sovereign of the Indian Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of Burma, Sovereign of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Sovereign of the Royal Family Order of King Edward VII, Sovereign of the Order of Mercy, Sovereign of the Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Sovereign of the Royal Victorian Order, Sovereign of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem."

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