Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Description of London

Found a delightful poem posted on today's edition of "The Writer's Almanac" describing a potential preview of people to meet in London during the 2012 Olympics and on other trips to the famous metropolis.

Since it's a public domain item, posting here the full text for "A Description of London" by John Banks. Hope ye like it.

"A Description of London"

Houses, churches, mixed together,

Streets unpleasant in all weather;

Prisons, places contiguous,

Gates, a bridge, the Thames irriguous.

Gaudy things enough to tempt ye,

Showy outsides, insides empty,

Bubbles, trades, mechanic arts,

Coaches, wheelbarrows and carts.

Warrant, bailiffs, bills unpaid,

Lords of laundresses afraid;

Rogues that nightly rob and shoot men,

Hangmen, aldermen and footmen.

Lawyers, poets, priests, physicians,

Noble, simple, all conditions:

Worth beneath a threadbare cover,

Villainy bedaubed all over.

Women black, red, fair and grey,

Prudes and such as never pray,

Handsome, ugly, noisy, still,

Some that will not, some that will.

Many a beau without a shilling,

Many a widow not unwilling;

Many a bargain, if you strike it:

This is London! How d'ye like it?

Illustration of London via

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday Mornings

I love Saturday mornings (who doesn't?). Though it's tempting to sleep in, during recent Saturdays (excluding Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve) and today, found it enjoyable to wake up early, tune in to "Weekend Edition" on NPR, catch up on newspaper sections missed during the week (with three subscriptions, sometimes The Times, WSJ and AJC hard copies pile up) and enjoy the bright Atlanta sunrises that fill the Myrtle Street house apartment with light.

Today's NPR reports are mostly about election topics, but looking forward to "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me!" and the Tappit Bros. later in the broadcast. By evening I'll be enjoying Garrison Keillor and Saturday night's great jazz programming. Love it!

With the radio news in the background, I read a couple more chapters of Roger Ebert's excellent memoir "Life Itself" -- during the week the pages mostly highlighted Ebert's upbringing and travels (delightful to learn of his early book titled "The Perfect London Walk" which should come in handy at the London 2012 Olympic Games). Now finally getting to more of his early film critic days, nights and weekends. Good stuff from an author who already had three books on my bookshelf.

Catching up on some recent Olympic headlines, a few reactions came to mind ...

-- Olympic champion Kurt Angle will pursue a spot on the 2012 Olympic wrestling team, as reported in the New York Post. Angle won a gold at the 1995 World Freestyle Wresting Championships while I was interning with USA Wrestling (his victory in the Omni Coliseum was pretty cool, a preamble to his gold during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996). It would be so cool for Angle to make the 2012 Olympic team. As they say in Hollywood and perhaps in the showbiz side of professional wrestling, "Break a leg!" (not your neck again, Kurt).

-- After pulling a twice-in-Olympic-history "psych!" move on the International Olympic Committee -- winning the bid to host the 1976 Olympic Winter Games then cancelling -- Denver is now considering a new Olympic bid, according to NPR. Channeling "SNL - Weekend Update" anchor Seth Meyers, Denver's decision begs the question, "Really?" (I learned in the NPR blog post that the other city to win, then decline, the Games was Rome in 1908, but they gave the Games back to the IOC in response to a natural disaster rather than results of a local vote denying funds/support).

-- AFP reports on the U.K. release of new Olympic and Paralympic stamps for 2012 (perhaps the plainest Olympic postage stamps I've seen in 25 years as a philatelist).

-- Authorities investigating a stolen 1996 Atlanta Olympic torch (or perhaps the cyclist owner of said torch) drastically overestimated the value of the torch in various reports about the recovery of the torch at a North Carolina pawn shop. WSB-TV of Atlanta reported the accurate value of about $1,500, with help of Olympic memorabilia collector Craig Perlow, and glad to see the Asheville Citizen-News did some basic research on the correct value (unlike other outlets that picked up the AP story and took it at face value).

-- The swashbuckling swordsman who helped create great fencing fights as a 1952 Olympian and as consultant for the silver screen -- including famous scenes in "Star Wars" and "The Princess Bride" -- died at age 89 (Bob Anderson's obit, as reported in the LA Times and other outlets).

-- Forbes reports that London 2012's Olympic volunteers are not permitted to use social media while on duty. Again, thinking of "SNL Weekend Update" and the question, "Really?"

Happy New Year -- 2012 hold a great deal of promise, and (*bonus*) it's an Olympic year!

Photo via Associated Press photo by Alastair Grant

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