July 25th, 2011
Rather brilliantly, when Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out the BBC World Service invited Colonel John Blashford-Snell to review it:
In any way, do you have assignments that are as hairy, in a sense, as some of the scenes that you see in films like the Crystal Skull?
Well, yes, er, I mean, some of the, on the – a few years ago we did an expedition in Bolivia and, ah, Brazil; and that was actually looking for a lost city. It was Paititi in this case, the great city of gold. But Akator came into it, because we found -
- which is in the present film – the current film -
- yes, it's in the present film – and I thought: golly, where did they get this story from? They must have read our book. One of the things about it was that we were faced with a bunch of neo-Nazis. They were real. And we were followed about by chaps with red armbands with swastikas on and that sort of thing. And this was in 2001. And so they created a lot of difficulties for us. And luckily the Bolivians equipped us with a wonderful Bolivian colonel, Hugo Cornejo, who was, um, built like Rambo, and his nickname was Rambo, and he dealt with the opposition … very effectively.
Sadly, the interviewer forgot to ask whether JBS had ever sheltered from a nuclear blast in a fridge.
November 3rd, 2010
Ten Lords A-Leaping (or, The Most Quintessentially British Story I Read Online Today):
Artw: I'm voting less-than-obviously-not-insane. Though with a member of the house of lords the correct term is "eccentric".
Slightly off-topic, but I still have a bunch of delightfully dotty thank you letters from some British lords.
The evening newspaper I once worked for in Cambridge (UK) got me to organize and write a fun feature on The Twelve Days of Christmas – with a local slant.
There were (and are) tons of House of Lords members attached to Cambridge University (masters of colleges and the like) and I eventually persuaded five fairly elderly chaps with titles to pose for the "ten lords a-leaping" photo – along with with five ordinary mortals with the surname "Lord" – that I found through the Cambridge phone book.
(It took quite a bit of explaining, but the regular Lords liked the idea of meeting the real Lords, and vice versa.)
We got the whole lot to join arms for a delightfully wobbly chorus line portrait outside the newspaper office (and I remember introducing the then vice-chancellor of the university, Lord Adrian to a local builder, called Adrian Lord, which they both found extremely funny).
We sent everyone a copy of the picture – and every one of the (posh) lords politely sent thanks (on their crested personal stationery). They were just signed "Adrian" or "Botts" or "Denby" and the oldest lord – he was in his late eighties, at least – wrote – possibly tongue-in-cheek – that he still hadn't a clue why he'd been required to vigorously waggle his leg for our newspaper photo, but that nevertheless he had enjoyed the occasion immensely!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 3:54 PM on November 3 [27 favorites]
February 6th, 2010
Charles Vance Millar had quite a sense of humour:
Charles Vance Millar was a prominent lawyer who practiced in Toronto from 1881 until his death in 1926. He went to his grave a bachelor, and due to some interesting investments (Charlie liked the longshots), this irascible 73-year-old left a considerable estate.
Millar was both a student of human nature and possessed of a perverse sense of fun. His best jokes turned on others' greed and love of money, and his pet theory was that every man had his price – the trick was to figure out what it was. (One of his favorite pranks was to leave $1 bills on the sidewalk, then watch the expressions of passersby as they furtively pocketed them.) His last will and testament exemplified his unusual sense of humor and put to the test his notions about every man having his price. Given Millar's obvious familiarity with the law, he had to have known what the execution of his will would do to the judicial system he'd long been part of – indeed, that was probably the motivation behind his wacky stipulations. Millar's death afforded him one last chance to tweak the beard of the legal system, and he took it. [...]
October 25th, 2008
David Byrne, on tour in Milwaukee, finds the time to collect tales of local eccentrics:
A group of us pile into Andi's car and head for the house of Andi's friend Paul, who lives in a boat that was built on dry land. [...] Paul's house was originally built by a man who accidentally sank an identical boat in the harbor. Out of remorse or sheer perversity, he decided to rebuild that boat, but on dry land, "where it could never sink again."
When he applied to the local city board to build this structure, the approval was denied, so he built it off site and surreptitiously dragged it up here one night. Needless to say, it's since become a local landmark; Paul says it's not uncommon for couples to consummate their relationship on the lawn. After that, a dentist lived in the boathouse. Not your ordinary dentist. We were told that this dentist had a fear of accidentally brushing against his female patients' breasts, so he fabricated a device, a way of working that would prevent that from happening. It consisted of a series of ropes and pulleys that would allow him to perform dentistry while suspended ABOVE the patient! (He didn't inform his female clients what his new contraption was designed to do or to avoid – he made up some other explanation). I wish I could have seen this device. Apparently at one point, he had a seizure or cramp while suspended, and the fire department had to come and cut him out. Can you imagine being the patient in the chair at that moment? Paul said this dentist also performed a root canal on himself. "Those damn dentists are so expensive!" he was quoted as saying.
September 10th, 2008
Christopher Hitchens on English eccentrics:
In 1933, Dame Edith Sitwell decided to publish a study called The English Eccentrics. I can't think what gave her the idea. Her father, Sir George Reresby Sitwell (son of Sir Sitwell Sitwell), maintained a country retreat named Renishaw Hall, near the Derbyshire town of Eckington. A sign at the entrance made the following heartfelt request: "I must ask anyone entering the house never to contradict me or differ from me in any way, as it interferes with the functioning of the gastric juices and prevents my sleeping at night." This atmosphere of mild – if pronounced – megalomania was dimly policed by a faithful butler, unimprovably named Henry Moat: a christening that would not have disgraced a P. G. Wodehouse manservant. The imperturbable Moat saw quite a few things in his time, which included his master's invention of a miniature revolver for the special purpose of shooting wasps.