All that you have is your soul (Tracy Chapman).

Thursday, 31 May 2007

Movie Review: The Lives Of Others


I saw this film with my parents and our opinions were unanimous - this is a superb film in every way. The acting is peerless, the story, totally engrossing and the pay-off almost brought tears to my eyes. It is set in the mid 1980's in the former DDR (east Germany, for those who are old enough to remember) and centres around the workings of the Stasi (the Secret Police)

The film won the Best Foreign Language Film at this years' Oscars which is not surprising (even though the Academy aren't always the best judge of what is or isn't a great movie)

I'm not going to add anything else, except...go see!

My rating:
*****

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The '20,000 Hits' Paradox

It just occurred to me that I've passed the 20,000 hits mark. You don't celebrate something like that every day. Thank you for coming and supporting this site.

20,000 hits...

Wow!

I'm not exactly reticent in publicising this blog. For crying out loud, I've got the URL (web address) sitting there as as part of the signature on virtually every email I send out!

That said, I am always taken aback when people I meet tell me they've been reading my posts - and I don't quite know how to react.

After all, here I am, spilling my soul out to the gathering masses not really aware of whom is on the receiving end -yet feeling quite humbled that people choose to visit the site (some on quite a regular basis) to get their "scribbler fix".

It's a paradox - ego vs humility.

Am I making any sense here?

I write because I need to express myself and I find that I can do this more eloquently through text than speech. Yet, I cringe when I think about what I've written and how some people will have interpreted it.

Is this a common ailment affecting bloggers?

Enough naval-gazing for now. I'm going to fire off some more emails and remind people of my blog. I just don't know how I'll react when they ask me to explain the above.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Jaw-Dropping

I travel a lot around cyberspace, trying different sites out, but I can't remember the last time I was left truly gobsmacked.

As regular visitors will know, I've been playing around with the Second Life application quite a bit (I wrote about it here). So far, I've been hang-gliding, enjoying a trip in a Gondola around an authentic looking Venice and even walking around virtual Heaven.

Nothing though prepared me for what I stumbled upon yesterday, when I decided to visit Second Life's Van Gogh exibit...

You get a chance to tour a museum displaying intricately scanned images of the artist's portfolio. This sounds interesting, until you realise that you can actually enter and walk around 3D rendered tableau's of his more famous prints.

Last night however, I discovered a site Van Gogh museum that allows you to view virtually all of his paintings as you stroll through online gallery. At times, it is literally jaw-dropping.

Look at this shot below:


You can see my character is walking around the painting Vincent's bedroom! You are even able to sit in the chairs and pan around the print in a 3D environment, so that you really do feel yourself inside the room. I don't want to give away any other surprises, but if you are into this kind of thing (or just an art lover, for that matter), do yourself a favour and download the program.

I could also tell you how I then teleported to Paris (circa 1900) and parachuted off an exact replica of the Eiffel Tower, but I wouldn't want to show off now, would I?

You can download Second Life here.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Follow That

I'm not even going to try.

I've been somewhat under the weather since I last posted, which is why you haven't heard much from me in the last few days. I think it is a combination of hay fever + general exhaustion + relief that half term is finally here.

The treat however is that, for once, the kids' break and mine don't collide and so I have a week all to myself - well, you know what I mean. It gives me the chance to do those little jobs that I never have time for, like getting the car MOT'd (the annual roadworthiness test) and having a hair cut.

I'll write again when I feel a little more up to it.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Four Magnificent Little Words

There are four magnificient words which describe how I feel right now and these are:


I

got

the

job



or perhaps, another way of describing it is like this:







or maybe:


or even:



(c) http://www.hetemeel.com/einsteinform.php



Whichever way I transmit this message to you, I think you get the point as to how absolutely fabulous I feel right now!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Pot Calling Kettle Black

Jimmy Carter's accusation that George W. Bush is the worst president in American history reminds me of the old addage "it takes one to know one".

Let's all remember Carter's intelligent and resolute handling of the Iran hostages crisis. Every day that man opens his foul mouth, at least a million people in some other part of the world wonder how you can translate "mega-shmuck" into Farsi, to get the desired effect.

Monday, 21 May 2007

And The Latest Job News Is....

I couldn't possibly comment - right yet.

Keep watching...

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Mon Chateau

Dana went off to France with her parents and brother for a family reunion at a French chateau, leaving me alone to take care of the girls. It went pretty well and amazingly, we didn't have a single fight. She's back now, as sick as dog, which wasn't really the idea of the break.

Workwise, things are looking decidedly up, but I can't say much more about it that yet.

Watch this space....

Thursday, 17 May 2007

The Child Who Is Stealing Our Hearts

Everywhere you look, you see the smiling picture of little Madeleine McCann, the child who has been abducted in Portugal.

We don't know if she's alive or Heaven forbid not. What we do however understand is how wrong this situation is.

We also feel vulnerable (my little Shira is only three months younger) in the knowledge that this could have happened to any one of us. It may not have taken place in a holiday resort, but how often have we gone to a shopping centre and taken our eyes off our children for a millisecond?

What about when we let them play in a park. Who knows whether someone might be lurking there, in some inconspicuous bush?

I'm doing my modest bit to raise awareness. If it can help, I'll be ecstatic, but no less than if the news comes through that this lovely little girl is found safe, ready to be returned to her mummy and daddy.

If or when that happens, my faith in mankind might be restored.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

This Is MY City

Tonight and tomorrow, we are celebrating the miraculous return of our holy city, Jerusalem to Jewish hands - forty years ago (according the Hebrew date).

I really don't think that people who are not of the faith can really appreciate how important this event was and is, to us. Our whole religion is built around the concept of placing Jerusalem at the centre of our lives. Every time we pray, we pray towards Jerusalem. Every time we recite the Grace After Meals, we ask G-d to rebuild Jerusalem. We fast for Jerusalem three times a years and think of her every single time we attend a wedding. Jerusalem is positively buried into our psyche as Jews.

I am absolutely delighted to be celebrating this very special occasion. In truth, although we are now remembering what happened forty years ago, we know that our 3000+ years of connection with the Holy City means much more than just raising a glass of wine for a l'chaim. Tomorrow, after the festivities are over and the confetti has been cleaned away, Jerusalem will still be ours and we will still point to her on the map that is interwoven into our hearts.

With this in mind, I want to categorically state that I really don't give a damn whether or not others do or not recognise our sovereignty over the city. I couldn't care less if the rest of the world has a "problem" with Jerusalem being our capital - I know what I know.

Sixty years ago, the very same world also didn't give a damn about my grandparents generation as they watched them "sympathetically" being exterminated by the Nazis.

Chag Sameach - a happy holiday to all those who share this special day with us and thank the Good Lord for finally returning our capital to us, after nearly two thousand years.

And to the rest of you who have a problem with our city?

Deal with it.

Jerusalem is ours and it will always be.

Whether or not you like it.

Could You Help?


Missing Madeleine!


Madeleine McCann was abducted from Praia Da Luz,
Portugal on 03/05/07.




If you have any information about her whereabouts, please contact Crimestoppers on

0800 555 111 UK

+441883731336 Outside UK

Please Help.






Do Elephants Really Have Memories?

A heart warming story sent to me by my friend J.

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University. On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.

He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.

As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.

The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.

Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.

Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day. Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.

The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.

Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant.

Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe's legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly.

Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

A Letter To My Blog

Dear Blog,

How are you? Have you missed me?

I wonder what you do when I'm away and not writing in.

So many quuestion with not a speck of an answer forthcoming.

Well, let me tell you about my day, Blog.

I spent it in front of a computer, marking coursework. I then sat at the kitchen table and marked some other coursework.

If that were not enough, this evening, I sat in front of tv, watching Greys Anatomy, and marked even more coursework.

Can you spot a common thread here? Whilst you were surfing along your virtual beach, totally oblivious to the inside world, I was sitting there, marking coursework.

And now I'm chatting with you, taking a break from the coursework, because it really is doing my head in.

Nice chatting with you, sort of.

All the best,

Your friend,

The Scribbler


ps I have to go now, because there is more coursework waiting. Have a nice time without me. I won't bother you again for a while.

Friday, 11 May 2007

THE Definition Of A Stressed Teacher

I left home in a rush this morning. As I was going out of the door, I grabbed the plastic bag containing my lunch.

At break time, I eagerly opened it to get out a snack, only to be faced with a varied assortment of odd socks, waiting to be matched up.

Now, that, ladies and gentlemen, is the definition of a stressed teacher.

The Decade Is Over

It is the end of an era. Tony Blair, the only Prime Minister my four daughters have ever known, has finally announced his resignation.

It's over.

I'm not going to give a great valedictory speech and praise him to the high heavens, but I do like the man and in the most, I do back his policies. I believe him to be a man of his word - as much as any politician can be. Then again, with all the spin, one is never too sure of what the truth is anymore.

Tony Blair has been the best friend Israel, and by extension, the Jewish People has ever had at Number 10 Downing Street. His genuine admiration for my brethren has not gone unnoticed by any of us who realise the loss we are going to be facing when he vacates his office (yes, yes, I know he lives at number 11...but let's not get too literate here)

Farewell Mr Blair. We bless you and thank you for your friendship and support. You stuck your head out for Israel, when all of the country told you to put it back and for that, we shall never forget you.

PS. Can you have a word with Gordon and tell him to be "just as nice"?

Monday, 7 May 2007

Movie Review: Spider-Man 3



In September 2005, I wrote this review about Spider-Man 2.

Having been totally bowled-over by that movie, I knew that this sequel would have to do a lot to equal it (it certainly couldn't be topped). They say that lightning sometimes strikes twice, but I'm afraid that it hasn't done so on this occasion.

Spider-Man 3 is a good movie. The characters are well drawn out, developed and engaging. Most reviewers have complained that the director, Sam Raimi, has tried to out-do himself by getting Spidey to fight three different villains, as well as cope with a strange substance that takes over his body in a pretty nightmarish fashion.

The film is at times, very funny, exhilarating and unpredictable, but it just doesn't stir the emotions in the same way as its predecessors. Maybe it was because "2" was so much better than the original, that I warmed to it so. With "3", because the stakes had been raised, I sort of knew what to expect.

My major complaint though was a lack of originality. The idea of Spider-Man's personality being reversed, as it were, reminded me of what happened to Superman in his second outing - whilst the Sandman was too reminiscent of the sand creature in The Mummy to register much interest or credibility.

Still, it is a thoroughly entertaining and at times, surprisingly dark movie. As one review wrote, the director (whomever he may be on the next outing) would do better to concentrate on one villain and then ensures that he/she incorporate some villains who really haven't been explorer before on celluloid.

There were also some pretty young kids in the audience, which I don't think was a great idea as there were some pretty intense fight scenes (of which, I think the first was the most thrilling).

Recommended.

My Rating

****

Sarkozy

Good news from France with regards to Sarkozy's win.

Saying that, I'm having great difficulty in convincing myself that the French actually did something right for once...

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Dead Lines (and yes, this is a pun, not a typo)

You can't fail to have noticed that I have been very quiet of late. If you're a teacher, you've probably guessed that its because I'm overwhelmed with marking coursework and getting it in by the deadline - and you're right!

Well, sort of.

It is no so much a case of marking the coursework than getting the damn thing in. My Year 11's have stayed true to form (like their compatriots in probably every other school in the country) and been reticent to the point of obsessive in refusing to hand it in. I have therefore instituted a deadline that pretty much makes it clear what the stakes are if they don't hand their gems of study (lol) in to me by a certain date.

The Jury is still out on whether or not my strategy will or will not work.

What I can be sure of, is that this little corner of cyberspace will remain pretty desolate over the next week or so and for that, I do apologise....but don't regret.

Please keep coming back and checking up - I haven't forgotten you and will be writing back soon.

I promise!

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Coming Around (to liking) The Helter Skelter

I had to traipse across town this afternoon to another school. After a rather disastrous trip there (yes, thank you Tom Tom for adding an additional half an hour to my journey, by the way), I faced my journey home with a great degree trepidation and understandable apprehension.

What CD could I put on that would ease the torment (not to mention length) of the journey? Simple. The Beatles White Album.

I'll admit that I'm not one of those people who sees this album as being one of their greatest releases. I have always found it to be lumbering, lost and at times, rather pointless (Revolution 9 anyone?), but then again, to be fair, I don't remember the last time I listened to it in one sitting.

The one track that has always put me off is Helter Skelter, yet, after listening to most of the album, stuck in that interminable line of traffic, I find myself slightly (and I won't get more enthusiastic than that) warming to both the song and the album.

I finished the journey at Long, long, long, which if you think about it, was the most appropriate place to end the session. It had certainly been a long, long, long journey there and back but somehow, in our time together, The White Album had managed to burrow it's way into my affections. I still don't hold it up there with Abbey Road, Sgt. Pepper or Revolver, but at least now, I don't feel that Helter Skelter is the spoiler it used to be.

My Flame

I don't mind telling you that I'm going through one of my "down" periods.

Things just don't seem to be working out for me right now. So far, I've sent off numerous applications and am still awaiting that ellusive invitation to an interview. I got feedback from one school and without going into detail, their reason for not shortlisting me was frankly ludicrous.

My Year 11's are doing their very best to hand in as little coursework as possible, despite the fact that it needs to be sent off in about a week-and-a-half and if that weren't bad enough, I've been told by a number of people that that some teachers around school think I've "lost my spark".

Told you I was down.

I think the "spark" comment is the one that hurts the most. I can't tell you how much I love teaching and I really, really do. When I go out there and engage with a class who want to learn, my heart soars. The problem though is finding a bunch of kids who can be bothered to keep quiet long enough to make the effort to get educated.

Yes, yes, it is a two week street. I have to be enthusiastic despite their apathy and generally ill-mannered temperament. So I go in there, give it my all and am frequently rewarded with rudeness and ridicule. Yet, if I let them get to me, my attitude leads to more of the same behaviour.

Let me use an analogy to describe the way I feel about teaching right now:

I see myself as being the custodian of what I shall call "the naked flame of learning". I bring this modest fire into the darkness of the classroom and do my very best to ensure that it is able to withstand the wintery gusts battering it from all sides. Sometimes, the wind wins and blows the flame out. I then re-ignite the spark that powers this vulnerable fire and battle on against the elements. If I manage, some education gets out there into the void and if I don't....well, maybe the next lesson's climate will be more favourable to my optimistic combustion of belief and hope.

Have I lost my spark? Have I abandoned the flame? I don't think so . I see it as still being there, quietly trying to light up as much of the darkness as possible in the fervent belief that it's light will manage to reach everyone, despite the long, dark and lonely night.

It is damn tough being a flame in a hurricane.

Damn, damn tough - but then again, being the custodian of a flame was never going to be easy.