‘Rameur sur le Gowanus’

Not by Caillebotte.


Q.P.R. 3, Wolverhampton 0

Yahoo’s copy desk said it was a “pounding”; West London Sport called it “magnificent” and a “walloping.” What it really was, though, was Rangers thoroughly handling a faltering, unimpressive club, Wolverhampton, in a 3-0 away victory that, notably, saw the captain Joey Barton and striker D. J. Campbell score their first goals.

Also scoring was the underappreciated Alejandro Faurlin, in the 10th minute, two minutes after Barton. Campbell added his as a substitute in the 87th minute.

For The A.P. it was “a convincing performance,” though it is not clear what they were convinced of. To be sure, it is the sort of game that strong teams win with breezy ease. But it could be a coincidence.


  • Barton scores as QPR wallop Wolves: “An earlier power cut that affected much of the Black Country had led to fears the game could be postponed. Wolves must be wishing it had been, as Rangers’ electric start helped them to a second league victory of the season and sparked fury among the frustrated home fans. Rangers’ inability to score on Monday despite running rings around Newcastle could have been seen as an ominous sign, but they needed only eight minutes to find the net at Molineux.”
  • QPR too good for Wolves – Premier League, Football – The Independent: “Manager Neil Warnock will take huge encouragement from the performance as his side — featuring the five permanent signings recruited since Tony Fernandes’s takeover of the London club — ran rings around their opponents at times. With the likes of [Joey] Barton and [Shaun] Wright-Phillips instrumental in proceedings, it seems a new era for the Loftus Road outfit has now truly begun.”
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 QPR | Premier League match report | Football | The Observer: “Pace, movement, fluidity and imagination have not always been words immediately associated with Neil Warnock teams in times past, but his Queens Park Rangers side demonstrated it has all four in not so much beating as embarrassing Wolves. The first two goals, through Joey Barton and Alejandro Faurlin, came early, the last late through D. J. Campbell, but there should have been many more.”
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers 0 Queens Park Rangers 3: match report — Telegraph: “QPR’s new-look team put in an impressive display as they ran out comfortable winners against Wolves at Molineux. Hoops captain Joey Barton scored his first goal for the club in the eighth minute when he converted a cross from Shaun Wright-Phillips, and it was 2-0 in the 10th thanks to Alejandro Faurlin’s strike as Wolves were made to pay for slack defending.”
  • Warnock’s away day delight | Football News | Sky Sports: “Neil Warnock declared that he had never enjoyed an away performance more after Queens Park Rangers beat Wolves 3-0 at Molineux. QPR produced an impressive display to pick up three points in the Midlands thanks to goals from new captain Joey Barton, Alejandro Faurlin and D. J. Campbell. The convincing scoreline reflected the visitors’ dominance and Warnock could not contain his delight after the final whistle. ‘I don’t think it can get much better than that. It was amazing really,’ he told Sky Sports.”

A Celebration of Unintended Consequences

OUR LEAD STORY IS most certainly not (it would be beneath us) the death of the dwarf porn star Percy Foster, a lookalike of the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay who was found partly eaten inside a badger’s den. (You might want to go back and start over; what can you add to that?) Authorities have not ruled out suicide in the strange case, which could not be stranger if the nouns and verbs used to describe it were substituted at random. Stranger still is the window it opens to a film genre. “Dwarf lookalikes are as rare as hen’s teeth,” Foster told a reporter earlier this year, “and so can command top dollar.” — Gordon Ramsay’s Dwarf Porn Double Found Dead In A Badger Den | Radar Online

SO CAN JAPANESE FUNERAL merchants; command top dollar, that is. The death rate in Japan, despite no one for once dropping bombs on it, is about .10 percent over the global average and has steadily increased over the past decade, with an average of 23,000 more deaths in each succeeding year. If you figure that the typical Japanese funeral costs 1.2 million yen (more than $15,000), and rising, you can see why “there’s been a rush into the market,” as one cemetery developer said. Crematoriums struggle to keep up with demand, for instance, creating a niche for corpse hotels, refrigerated honeymoon spots in reverse, where loved ones can be stashed temporarily. It is a bona fide gold rush, with little regulation and an explosion in growth, not only for entrepreneurs — more than 2,500 new companies and 25,000 new workers since 2005 — but also the pun-loving copy desk at Reuters. — Death industry reaps grim profit as Japan dies | Reuters

UNNERVING OUTDOORS-LOVING Australians are wild parrots who learned to speak from former pet parrots who, one way or another, have escaped from domesticity. It was inevitable, probably, for birds who are, by their nature, inquisitive and excessively social. But that does not make it easy to hear. “The pet bird begins to say things it’s been taught by its owner,” one naturalist said, and the next thing you know, all outdoors is alive with screeches of “Hello, Polly!” and “Who’s a pretty girl!” Serious minds, predictably, see more than an amusing soundtrack. Scientists believe a closer look at the phenomenon can reveal new insights into how human brains work and how humans and birds develop. One researcher said the birds “may hold important clues as to how we humans can learn to speak and acquire languages.” — BBC News – How can birds teach each other to talk?

FROM LIFE IMITATING LIFE, we move to life imitating art. In Arizona, in what was, I am pretty sure, a tragic reenactment of the opening minutes of the 1974 made-for-television movie “Killer Bees,” starring Kate Jackson and Eddie Albert, Africanized bees swarmed over a farm in Bisbee, leaving a 1,000-pound hog dead and severely injuring an 800-pounder. KOLD-TV in Tucson featured “exclusive footage” of the attack shot by an amateur videographer, who inadvertently revealed a dark fetish when he said it was one of the worst bee attacks he had ever filmed. The owner of the farm had called on the celebrity exterminator Reed Booth, but the hive in question, “about 200 pounds” with more than 250,000 bees, was too much to handle. Booth told KOLD that the bees are “much ornerier this year for some reason,” which, again, I am pretty sure, totally happened in that movie. — Killer bees attack, kill farm animals in Bisbee

It’s Good to Be the King

[9:44 PM] Me: King of comedy. Bob Hope? Eddie Murphy? Go!

[10:08 PM] Bob: Lenny Bruce! Redd Fox!

[10:09 PM] Me: Which?

[10:09 PM] Bob: Come on Bob Hope had an army of writers…Eddie Murphy made millions emulating the two names I gave you.

[10:15 PM] Me: Lenny Bruce doesn’t work. He’s too fringe. He’s a good rogue, a powerful influence. But not nobility.

[10:16 PM] Me: Foxx is intriguing. Kinglike, but did not reign over much.

[10:17 PM] Me: Jerry Seinfeld has the tools, the kingdom, the enduring success. But may be too modern to suit you.

[10:19 PM] Me: Robin Williams, too, has Seinfeld-like qualities. Perhaps more success. Has faded some, but was bigger at his biggest.

[10:21 PM] Me: Richard Pryor is good, but was too often behind the scenes. A better pretender to the throne.

[10:22 PM] Me: Bill Cosby? He is a giant, but has done nothing recently but whine that black comedians swear too much.

[10:23 PM] Me: Rodney Dangerfield? Hmm. I like his regal style, but resume is not there.

[10:25 PM] Me: George Carlin? Another big influence. But no big feats off the stage.

[10:25 PM] Me: I vote Williams. With Pryor and Carlin in the wings.

[10:15 AM] Bob: The correct answer to the question, who is the king of comedy, is Will Rogers. All of the afore mentioned pretenders pale in comparison to Will’s ability to comment on the every day with insightful wit and charm.

[10:19 AM] Bob: The king of comedy woulf be king for making light of the everyday with a good dose of “Come on think about it”

[10:19 AM] Bob: A shit pot of comedians have incorporated his commentary into a variety of media to make their comedic presence.

[10:22 AM] Me: Wow. That might be it.

[10:22 AM] Bob: I find upon review that all of the very entertaining comedians you have credit to present in there comments a sense of treatment to their subject matter patterned after Mr. Rogers. They just put their own spin on it given the media used to transmit their message and brought to the level of their audience.

[10:23 AM] Me: That sounded like bullshit.

[10:24 AM] Me: But I like Rogers.

[10:25 AM] Me: It could be you’re not a hopeless idiot.

[10:33 AM] Bob: Foxx fought hard for this …Whoopie Goldberg went over the top…and still made people laugh…with the use of the absurd…social and political context…that made the dominate culture uncomfortable as they laughed at the obvious joke and were unease at the message.

[10:33 AM] Bob: So, Will Roger’s the king of comedy for being funny…but more so getting people to realize it shouldn’t be that funny or really isn’t funny at all…thus the phrase we have to laugh or we will cry

[10:35 AM] Me: Wow. Well played.

Joke Is On Them Edition


IN OUR LEAD STORY, scientists are developing “ ‘autocidal’ maniacs,” genetically modified animals that are what amounts to a series of underhanded practical jokes on unsuspecting pests. The so-called “sterile male technique,” in which captive populations are sterilized and released, has already been used against a menagerie — screwworms, tsetse flies, bollworms and lampreys. But according to The New Scientist, researchers have also developed zebrafish that cannot produce female offspring, mosquitoes that have a genetic kill switch that activates in the pupae stage, and another strain of mosquitoes in which females are born perfectly healthy — except they are unable to fly. Such developments do not come without their own headaches. Some of the gags require that insects be sorted by sex, which must be tedious work for Ph.D.’s, and shipping bugs to problem spots is well nigh impossible: “You end up with legs tangled up with wings and a lot of physical damage,” one scientist said. — Swarm troopers: Mutant armies waging war in the wildlife – 12 September 2011 – New Scientist

SPEAKING OF PRACTICAL JOKES, conservationists in South Africa have realized that an antiparasitic salve applied to the horns of rhinoceroses renders them toxic to humans, causing “convulsions and headaches” in anyone who ingests a homemade rhino remedy. The treated horns also “glow neon pink in an airport scanner,” and officials hope these traits will work in concert to discourage poaching. More likely, it will simply increase the incidence of convulsions and headaches among the home-remedy set. — Poisonous Rhinos Discourage Poachers : Discovery News

IN THE DEPARTMENT of That Is What Happens When You Give a Wild Animal a Cute Name, the scientists who were keeping tabs on Happy Feet, an emperor penguin who became a minor celebrity after washing up in New Zealand several months ago far from his usual habitat, say they have lost track of where the little guy is. Happy Feet had been nursed back to health and was sent back into the wild on Sept. 4 with a pat on his closely cropped behind and a radio transmitter up the strap. But transmissions have stopped, and pessimists are assuming the worst. Of course, the transponder could have failed or fallen off, but one of the penguin-tracking scientists betrayed expectations with a darkly philosophical comment: “It is time to harden up to the reality that the penguin has returned to the anonymity from which he emerged.” It also was, apparently, time for a Discovery News copy editor to indulge in a delicious pun. — Did ‘Happy Feet’ Penguin Become Happy Meal? : Discovery News

BACK WHEN HIS PROGRAM was actually influential, David Letterman apprised us all of the amazing talents of bats with his thankfully short-lived catchphrase, “Bats is smart; they use radar.” As it turns out, bats are so smart, they don’t even need to use their own radar. Researchers studying their habits have learned that young bats use the echolocation clicks of older bats to figure out how to find food, providing the first evidence of social learning in the animals. Most amusingly (or disturbingly), the discovery stirred the comic-book-baked imagination of one scientist, who imagined a future where people or robots learn to echolocate. “We need to watch what the bats are doing,” he urged. — BBC Nature – Bats eavesdrop to learn to hunt

Q.P.R. 0, Newcastle 0

Rangers settled for a scoreless draw at home against Newcastle in a game that saw the probably smart-alecky Joey Barton make his debut against his former team. The BBC offered tempered praise, calling Rangers’ performance encouraging and cohesive while allowing that they had “failed to spark their new era into life.” The Associated Press was warm in its assessment, describing “a promising display by” Q.P.R.” and noting that “the hosts had the better chances.” (These apparently were a volley and a header from Jay Bothroyd, a lob from Shaun Wright-Phillips and a header from Shaun Derry on a corner from Adel Taarabt.)

In the end, all the lads got was a point. Still, after four weeks, and two listless thumpings, Rangers are on a pace for the presumed safety* of 38 points.

Barton was released by Newcastle after making critical comments about the club on Twitter, one of a fat-thumbed gaggle of Premier League players who are apparently unaware that it is permissible to have an unexpressed thought.


  • New-look QPR unable to find finish: “All eyes were on Joey Barton, making his QPR debut against the club that showed him the door. The midfielder showed glimpses of his undeniable ability but of the Rangers new boys, it was Shaun Wright-Phillips who produced the stand-out performance. And, seemingly determined not to be surpassed by the recent high-profile arrivals, Adel Taarabt sparkled during a first half in which the home side did everything but score.”
  • BBC Sport – QPR boss Neil Warnock excited by new-look team: “Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock said he was excited by his new-look team despite drawing a blank against Newcastle. The goalless draw was given added gloss by an impressive display by Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was one of six players making their Rangers debut. ‘I really enjoyed the game, that’s what football is about — excitement,’ Warnock told BBC Radio 5 live.”
  • Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Newcastle United | Premier League match report | Football | The Guardian: “The spice in Joey Barton’s debut for Queens Park Rangers against the club he departed amidst such acrimony would always have had more zest if this encounter had been staged at St James’ Park before 52,000 baying Newcastle United fans. Instead, as the QPR manager, Neil Warnock, suggested, the prospect of Barton causing a row with his former team-mates proved nothing more than a pre-match sideshow.” 
  • Wright-Phillips glitters but Rangers miss their chance – Premier League, Football – The Independent: “Tony Fernandes bought Neil Warnock as many players as he could in the last 13 days of the transfer window but the one the new owner of Queens Park Rangers could not deliver was a proven goalscorer and, boy, did it show last night. A storming debut from Shaun Wright-Phillips? Check. Another golden performance from Adel Taarabt? Check. Fans singing the new owner’s name? Check. A feel-good factor around Loftus Road? Check. Joey Barton throwing his shirt into the crowd? Check. A centre-forward who can tuck away one of the many great opportunities served up to him by Wright-Phillips and Taraabt? Fernandes will have to get back to you on that one.”

* It’s early, we know.

‘That’s What I Like About You’

[5:47 PM] Me: Do you have wood shavings in your underwear?

[5:58 PM] Mark : Yes, but there’s enough to share.

[6:08 PM] Me: Do they get soggy?

[6:12 PM] Mark : Thankfully, yes.

[6:23 PM] Me: Have you thought of a wet suit, to keep your underwear shaving free?

[7:06 PM] Mark : You’re always thinking. That’s what I like about you.

[11:25 PM] Me: Not wearing your underwear would work, too.

‘There’s Absolutely No Truth in It’


The rumor that the new owner Tony Fernandes plans to make a play for the still-has-it David Beckham does not want to go away, it seems, though the top-trending “Beckham” stories on Topsy this morning are about his new daughter’s first trip to the mall. (Really.) On the face of it, it is a potentially interesting, if far-fetched, development. But the moment you take a pencil and gingerly lift up some of the debris, you realize that underneath it all, the truly interesting thing is how far people are running with this.

  • Manager Neil Warnock told The Kilburn Times that signing Beckham was “not something we’ve talked about,” adding for emphasis, “No, it is not a discussion Tony and I have had,” which led a Times copy editor to write the headline: “QPR boss won’t rule out move for England international.” 
  • Warnock told The Telegraph that “I will never write anything off,” which led a copy editor there to write: “Warnock hints at David Beckham signing.” 
  • The Daily Mail turned its green-eye-shade-wearing Twitter interpreters on this snippet from Fernandes: “I think having someone like David in the club would be great.” After cartoon beeps and a lot of smoke, this headline appeared: “QPR make move for Beckham as new owner Fernandes ups the ante on Twitter.” 

All of this mere days after the chairman Amit Bhatia told the sober West London Sport, “There’s absolutely no truth in it.”

    In Which I Tweet the Thirty Years War



    The Thirty Years War: Europe’s Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson

    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    The Web is the Web, I know, but I am still stopped short once in a while by those who exert themselves to express an obvious or mundane opinion. Recipes for things like bruschetta, how-to’s for changing your screen saver and blog comments that ask, “Who cares?” spring to mind. And when I was surfing reviews of Wilson’s excellent history of the Thirty Years War, I was struck by those who took time to say it was dense and confusing. Really?

    It is, of course, but notice that no historian has undertaken to explain it all in 150 pages. There are short cuts, to be sure. Diarmaid MacCulloch has a nimble summary of a dozen or so pages in his eponymous book on the Reformation, for instance, and I came across a telegram-clear, annotated timeline in a one-volume encyclopedia of world history I, for some reason, own. The Wikipedia entry is at least heavily cross-referenced. But these do nothing for the novice patrolling goodreads.com.

    I ask those nameless critics to ask themselves, Is the reader who is bold enough to actually go looking for a book on the Thirty Years War — who does not immediately abandon ship after finding out it will be 851 pages long and who keeps reading after Wilson himself warns that he will first embark on several chapters of background — likely to be dissuaded by wags who say it is “difficult” or “dull”?


    Never mind. I don’t want to know the answer to that question.

    I loved it. I looked forward to opening it up every day, and felt like I was on some kind of adventure. On goodreads, I called it “rich and thorough” with “the faintest whiff of textbook.” Among other things.

    In a word, it was satisfying.

    In fact, the odd ornaments of history hang so well on Wilson’s narrative that it compelled me to, above, take a stab at Tweeting the plot.

    View all my reviews